Matalan is considering a wider launch onto the high street as it ramps up its fashion credentials to take on more aspirational rivals.
Drapers understands the value retailer has signed a lease to take a property in Cardiff city centre, and is thought to be eyeing Northern cities such as Manchester or Leeds. The Cardiff store, at 43 Queen Street, is expected to open towards the end of the year.
Matalan, which has 217 UK stores, is also thought to be scouting for a prime London location, with sources suggesting it was keen to get onto Oxford Street, but it is not believed to have found a suitable site.
The Cardiff move follows Matalan’s successful high street debut last autumn, when model and footballer’s wife Abbey Clancy opened a store in Liverpool’s Williamson Square and put her name to a collection.
The news comes as the retailer continues a turnaround in its womenswear division. Matalan buying director Mitchell Hughes told Drapers last November that the division was getting “back on track”, with a new team in place and greater emphasis on trends and statement pieces.
It is believed Matalan is hoping a higher profile in high street locations, coupled with more trend-led collections, could pit it against the likes of Primark and River Island.
Matalan managing director Jason Hargreaves, son of founder John Hargreaves, said: “We opened a store in Liverpool town centre in October last year and we have been pleased with the results to date.
“We intend to open another pilot store in Cardiff towards the end of this year that will be a larger concept. We will continue to review the results of these city centre stores so that we can better understand the opportunities they provide for us. Presently, there are no plans in place to open any further stores.”
The strategy comes after a year in which both retail parks and high streets experienced drops in footfall, although out-of-town locations fared slightly better with a decline of 0.94% compared with a drop of 1.19% on the high street throughout the UK.
Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard Research, said high streets were more “volatile and unpredictable”, often as a result of the weather, but that Matalan could benefit from “huge spikes in footfall at certain times – buoyed by the evening economy”.