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Browns of York kicks off expansion strategy

Yorkshire indie department store group Browns plans to expand after the successful opening of its third store, in Beverley, East Yorkshire.

The two-storey 12,000 sq ft store on Beverley’s main shopping street, Saturday Market, opened last month and stocks womenswear brands including Sandwich, Basler and Fenn Wright Manson.

Brands stocked in Browns’ other two stores in York and Helmsley include womenswear labels Dash, Phase Eight, Jacques Vert and Nougat, and menswear brands such as Calvin Klein, Camel Active, Gabicci and Meyer.

Browns managing director Nicholas Brown said the Beverley store was already trading “well ahead of sales targets and expectations” and that he was seeking additional sites for further openings.

Brown said: “We will look to open two or three stores over the next two years if the right opportunities present themselves. We’re looking at market towns similar to Beverley across the north of England.”

He added: “It’s a good time for indies to expand because access to cash from banks is starting to get better. A lot of the multiples are trying to reduce their debt now to avoid going into administration.”

All three Browns stores are in areas with strong tourism, which Brown said had boosted sales, particularly when sterling was weak. Browns has experienced steady growth in both its York and Helmsley stores in North Yorkshire, with like-for-like sales up 3% in York and 8% in Helmsley in 2009.

Trade has continued on an upward curve, with Easter sales “well ahead of last year”, according to Brown.

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