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The Pud Store seizes high street opportunities

Independent kidswear outlet retailer The Pud Store is opening new branches in Mansfield, Lincoln, Rotherham and Barnsley as “now it is the perfect time to expand”, founder Frances Bishop told Drapers.

The retailer, which was founded in 2014, specialises in past-season designer kidswear for boys and girls. It currently has two stores, in Newark and Doncaster, and trades via a thriving Facebook page with 14,000 members. Bishop had a third store in Nottingham, which closed in 2015.

This week Bishop secured funding from Barclays to press ahead with her expansion plan and open in more towns: Mansfield in September and Lincoln before Christmas,followed by Rotherham and Barnsley in the new year.

“There are lots of retailers that have two or three shops like me and are toying with the idea of expanding further but don’t know how to do it,” Bishop said. “It feels like the stars have aligned because there are good deals to be had on stores and there is lots of stock available, which suits my business model. Hopefully we can be a good news story on the high street at the moment.”

As the store sells predominantly past-season stock, with some current season and own brand, costs are low. Tough trading on the high street generally means past-season stock is in abundance at a good price and her customers are looking for a bargain, Bishop said.

“Our customers are the sort of customers that Next used to have but became complacent,” she said. “We offer specialist service, a payment plan and remember birthdays and things, which go a long way.”

She also posts videos each day on her closed buying and selling Facebook page, which acts as an extra source of revenue as customers ring in to order items.

“I tend to make between £300 and £500 from each video because mums spot something they like and suppliers like it too because it is a closed page so the discounted stock isn’t all over the internet,” she explained.

Bishop told Drapers the business made sales of £500,000 with a net profit of £110,000 for the year to 31 March 18 and is on track to increase this to £720,000 in 2019 with the two existing stores. With the new stores as part of the figures this is now projecting to increase to between £1.2m and £1.6m.

Bishop appeared on the BBC’s The Apprentice show but was voted off in December 2016 at the interview stage because Lord Alan Sugar did not believe the business could grow to become a national chain.

“I didn’t win The Apprentice, I got fired and told my business wasn’t scalable, so I have spent the last two years identifying the key issues and perfecting my USP,” Bishop said.

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