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QS set to grow after Indian investment

Value retailer QS is on the expansion trail with plans to double its chain to 400 stores, after Indian textile manufacturing firm Alok Group bought a majority stake in the British business.

The investment in QS, which takes Alok's shareholding from 26% to a controlling stake of more than 50%, will initially be used to refit QS's existing 207 stores as part of a multi-million pound strategy.

QS Group was rescued from administration in February last year after it sold 134 stores.

A new store concept that has been tested in Solihull and Tunbridge Wells in Kent will be rolled out in the first quarter of this year and completed within three years.

"The investment will be used to strengthen our position on the high street through better product and expansion," said chief executive Findlay Caldwell. "We have the capacity to double our number of stores."

He said sourcing had become more effective after QS set up its first office in India two months ago. "It's important for good sourcing to have a local presence in the area," he said. "There's a possibility we will open another office in China, where most of our knitwear and denim comes from."

QS appointed design agencies Studio One and Smith & Manz to create the new store concept. London-based Smith & Manz developed the revamped look and feel of the chain, while Studio One, based in Harrogate in North Yorkshire, worked on the store fixtures and fittings.

QS Group holding company Hamsard 2353, which bought the BeWise chain in 2003, posted a loss before tax and exceptionals of £4.97 million for the year to January 29 2005, on turnover up 43% to £188.2m.

Alok's acquisition of shares in Hamsard 2353 will mean that QS becomes a subsidiary of Alok Group.

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