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Original Factory Shop aims for 100 stores as growth strategy hots up

Value chain The Original Factory Shop is to open 15 stores in the next twelve months, as part of plans to grow its portfolio to 100 stores by the end of 2008.

The 73-strong chain, which posted record annual sales this year, has unveiled a £10 million expansion plan over three years.

The Original Factory Shop, which sells discounted branded merchandise including womenswear, menswear, kidswear, footwear and homewares, competes mainly with the supermarkets, rather than discounters such as TK Maxx.

Chief executive George Foster told Drapers the next store to open would be in Kilsyth, Scotland in early May, with a new shop then launching every three to four weeks, including Bungay in Suffolk on May 31.

"We fill a gap in smaller towns by being like a mini department store, so we'll continue to open shops in these locations," said Foster. "But we're also looking at slightly bigger towns as well. It's all about getting the product right."

The 8,000 sq ft Scottish store will be the third to launch this year, after openings in Bishop's Cleeve in Gloucestershire in February and Spilsby in Lincolnshire in March. Store sizes range from 6,000 sq ft to 12,000 sq ft.

Foster added that he was also planning to beef up the retailer's buying and merchandising teams to support the expansion. "We've already increased the buying team from five to eight people in the past year and we're currently looking for an area manager for the Midlands.

"We're in similar locations to supermarkets so we must keep prices competitive. But we differentiate ourselves by selling brands," he said.

For the year to March 31, the retailer's profits rose 28% to £6.6m and total sales increased by 14.4% to £60.5m for the same period. Like-for-like sales for the year were up by 6.8%.

The Original Factory Shop was established in 1969, selling excess stock and seconds manufactured for Marks & Spencer.

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