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Bonita eyes UK sites

German chain Bonita is to shake up the classic womens-wear market with a UK launch next year.
The middle-market chain, which has 700 stores in Europe, plans to open its first UK store in April, with up to 10 more shops to follow.
Bonita, which is aimed at the 35-plus market, already has stores in Germany, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland.
It has appointed a host of retail agents to find locationsfor its store expansion plans in the UK.

Richard Criss, managing partner at consultancy Capital Retail, which is scouting for sites for Bonita, said: “The focus will be on towns and cities, with a south-east bias.”

According to Criss, the chain is aiming to rival the likes of Marks & Spencer and East. “About 10 stores will open as part of a trial between April and September next year,” he said. “The retailer will test one big regional centre, and will then look at a few smaller cities and market towns.”

He added that the retailer was looking for locations of between 1,000sq ft and 1,500sq ft, and was focusing on a combination of high street and shopping centre sites. He said there was potential for the retailer to open up to 500 stores in the UK.

Edward Whitefield, chairman of retail consultant Management Horizons Europe, said he believed that Bonita would work best in smaller market towns in the UK. “The retailer is traditional and classic, and very moderate with its prices,” he said. “The shops are small but well merchandised, with regular fresh product and good colours.

“Bonita’s secret is that it has gone into smaller towns rather than larger cities. It will compete with businesses such as Bhs, Littlewoods and M&Co, but is also likely to rival independents in some towns. The retailer’s offer is aimed at the same market as womenswear brand Gerry Weber, but at a lower price point.”

Bonita’s prices start at 30 (£21) for shirts, rising to 100 (£70) for jackets.

The chain has expanded rapidly in its existing markets, with stores opening at a rate of three per week over the past year.
Bonita’s other UK letting agents are Jones Lang LaSalle and Keenan & Co.

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