New value chain Pep&Co is in talks to place repeat orders earlier than expected as it races to open 50 stores across the UK.
“We’re really pleased with the reaction we’ve had so far and we’ve learnt loads,” said managing director Adrian Mountford, following the launch of the ninth store in Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire, on Monday (July 27).
Stores had opened in Kettering, Cwmbran, Boscombe, Chatham, Corby, Falkirk, Hull, Redditch and Scunthorpe by the time Drapers went to press. Mountford could not confirm the next launches as “things are changing so quickly”.
He explained that some stores need more work than planned and others will be ready sooner than expected, but overall the roll-out is “pretty much on track”.
“We’ll do it in more or less 50 days – it may take a few days more but we should be about there,” he said. “We have put this whole thing together in a relatively short space of time and everything is new. We’ve used experience and a bit of gut feel. It’s only going to get stronger from here.
He said sell-through of some items had been better than anticipated. “We’re having to look at stock very carefully. We might sell out of some things before we get to the last few stores, so we may have to bring phase two forward, and we’re speaking to our short-order suppliers [mainly in Turkey] earlier than we thought.
“We had to call some of them and see what we can do to replace some things that are selling faster than we planned. We realise that there is a halo effect with opening new shops so we’re not getting ahead of ourselves; hopefully they will continue to trade well when they’re not new any more.”
The new value chain targets “a mum on a budget” with its womenswear, kidswear and home decoration products, 95% of which are priced under £10.
“We’re still finding that the mix between women’s and kids’ is similar to where we thought it’d be and there have been some individual lines that haven’t worked, but things like schoolwear and the promotions we have in the windows have been going really well,” he said.
The team is currently at around 200 people of a target of 500, with the majority of shop staff yet to be recruited.
“We’re pretty much there in the head office [in Watford] with about 36 people, and all the managers and deputies are sorted out, but we’ve got the store associates yet to go. There’s still a lot to do,” he said.
The full list is Ashton-under-Lyne, Birkenhead, Birmingham Yardley, Bolton, Bootle, Boscombe, Boston, Bridgend, Bristol, Burton upon Trent, Chatham, Chelmsley Wood, Corby, Coventry, Crewe, Cwmbran, Dartford, Derby, Dunfermline, East Kilbride, Eastleigh, Ellesmere Port, Falkirk, Glenrothes, Gloucester, Grays, Hartlepool, Hemel Hempstead, Hull, Irvine, Kettering, Kirkcaldy, Maidstone, Middlesbrough, Newport, Newton Mearns, Oldham, Paisley, Redditch, Redhill, Runcorn, Salford, Scunthorpe, Stretford, Sunderland, Swindon, Warminster, Warrington, West Bromwich and Weston-super-Mare.