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O'Neill to surf into new territory with franchises in smaller towns

Surfwear brand O'Neill will open its first franchise stores this year as it expands its retail portfolio into smaller towns.

A 17,000 sq ft shop will open this summer in Preston, Lancashire, which will be run by independent retailer AJ'z Boardwear.

O'Neill, which is licensed to Blacks Leisure Group in the UK, hopes to open at least two more franchises this year to add to its 15 company-owned stores.

UK managing director Darren Spurling said: "We will open franchise shops in smaller and more secondary towns. We wouldn't put bigger stores there, but we want to get exposure and it's beneficial from a marketing point of view. Also, our ranges are getting bigger. Womenswear is growing particularly well, so we need more retail space to show it off properly."

O'Neill US sold the global rights of the O'Neill brand to Dutch fashion group Logo International BV earlier this month. Spurling said the deal would not affect O'Neill's UK operation.

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