Discount department store The Original Factory Shop plans to focus more on fashion to boost sales, as it opens its 200th shop this weekend.
The Aylesbury store, which opens on Saturday March 28, is 9,500 sq ft – larger than its typical 7,000 sq ft unit – allowing it to accommodate more fashion brands and concessions.
The Original Factory Shop buys product from brands when other retailers can no longer take their full commitment, and sells it at discounts of up to 80%. It stocks brands including Hush Puppies, Blowfish, Lands’ End, Lee Cooper and Viktor & Rolf, 95% of which is current season.
Fashion, which makes up 50% of the business, has enjoyed high single-digit sales growth in the year to date, according to chief executive Tony Page. The rest is made up of home and garden, electrical, beauty and furniture.
Page told Drapers the Aylesbury store will make more of The Original Factory Shop’s fashion offering. “Fashion plays a very important position in our future,” he explained. “It is a real point of difference for us as not many other local discount department stores have a high fashion focus.”
The business phased out its concessions six years ago, but has now reintroduced them following a successful trial last autumn.
It began rolling concessions out in February and now has them in 12 stores. Page said he expects to extend this to 60 to 70 stores this year. Concession partners include retail services company Hallet Retail, designer mini-chain Cruise and women’s outerwear brand David Barry.
Page added: “[Brands] are engaging with us as we are a new route to market for them. It’s a way of growing their business as many shoppers want to stay local rather than going to bigger towns for department stores. Aldi and Lidl have been very successful in tapping into that convenience market, too.”
The Original Factory Shop, which is owned by private equity company Duke Street, opened 11 stores this year and plans to open another 15 in the next 12 months. Existing locations include Debden in Essex and Great Harwood in Blackburn.
Turnover for the year to March 28 is more than £200m with high-single digit growth.