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Officers Club expansion on hold

The Officers Club has called a halt to its expansion plans as it attempts to move away from its cut-price image.

The business, which vowed to more than double its 20-strong young fashion chain Petroleum a year ago, has been hit by competition in the discount sector.

The retailer has also closed some of its more expensive Officers Club units and there are no plans to open more stores.

Chairman Dave Charlton said: "It's pretty tough, so it's not the right time for Petroleum on the high street. We're concentrating on getting the product right in The Officers Club and making the store portfolio more economical.

"There is too much competition in the pile-it-high, sell-it-cheap market, especially from the supermarkets and Primark. Our prices have gone up about 50% over the past two years and we're losing the discount tag. But it takes time."

The Officers Club has also closed higher rent stores in the past year, including shops at Lakeside in Essex, Bromley in Kent and Kingston-upon-Thames in Surrey, and has opened in smaller, less expensive locations.

There are about 70 full price The Officers Club shops, with another 70 operating at the more discount level of the market in retail parks. Petroleum now has about 30 stores in outlet centres.

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