“We won’t pause the store rollout programme for very long,” said Cathy Haydon, trading director of Pep & Co, the new value chain which has opened 50 stores across the UK since its debut in Kettering on July 1.
“We know there are hundreds of locations where Pep&Co could thrive so those conversations about the next stage are happening. It depends on the right sites being available and our buying patterns (we buy six months ahead) but we still have ambitious plans to grow.”
The value chain, which is led by former Asda boss Andy Bond and former Sainsbury’s Tu boss Adrian Mountford and backed by South African retail billionaire Christo Wiese, reached the 50 store milestone in Dartford on Saturday [September 19], which Haydon described as “quite a relief”.
Drapers understands that the management team is set to formally review the past few month’s trading within the next four weeks and then the next phase of retail roll-out plans will be formulated.
One property source said: “They opened 50 this year and the team has been talking about similar if not more next year. Based on the early signs, I’m confident that those plans will be starting soon.”
The major change to the original proposition will be the introduction of menswear, as previously reported in Drapers, which is set to launch in November.
“We had so many customers asking ‘where is your menswear?’ so one of the benefits of having such a small team with a flat structure is that we could react quickly,” said Haydon. “We’ll have a comprehensive menswear range of around 100 pieces building towards from November building towards 150 pieces from the end of January.”
The chain targets a ‘mum on a budget’ with its range of womenswear, kidswear and home decoration, with prices starting at £1 and rising to a top price of £25.
“The men’s offer will be very similar in price to our womenswear, with entry prices of £2.50 T-shirts and upwards to more detailed pieces,” she said.
Initial bestsellers have included jersey tops and T-shirts for women, kid’s T-shirts starting at £1.50 and back to school items. Denim and footwear has also performed well since the launch.
“Now we have some trading data to go on, we found there are some things we haven’t bought enough so and we’ve been selling out of so we’re repeating some of our top lines,” said Haydon. “Some things have not been as good, but I think that is to be expected. Now we’re tweaking forward ranges and making sure the lessons we learned are being implemented.”
She confirmed that there have been no decisions made about trading online but that it is something they will be looking at more closely over the coming months.
“Overall we’re happy with how the stores look and the customer feedback has been very positive,” she said. “We’re not perfect yet but it’s been a remarkable achievement.”