The Original Factory Shop, the value department store chain, is to step up expansion after recording a 35% increase in sales to £132m for the year to March 28.
Like-for-like sales at the 134-shop retailer rose 7% and EBITDA grew 31% to £14.7m. This strong cash generation will fund The Original Factory Shop’s opening plans.
The Original Factory Shop chief executive Angela Spindler told The Times: “We are confident we will have a chain of 500 stores by 2020. The kind of places we like to trade from are what you might call the forgotten high streets of Britain.” She said these locations are small towns where the population is less than 20,000 or on the edges of larger towns.
The retailer has so far identified 400 UK sites it could expand to. It expects to open about 35 stores during this financial year. Of these, six will open before the end of the month. It also plans to almost double the size of its warehouse facilities, adding an additional 104,000 sq ft to cope with this expansion.
Spindler said that, of the new stores, about eight would be former Woolworths sites. The retailer opened 30 new stores during the year, of which 22 were in former Woolworths outlets.
She added that the rest would probably be identified on an individual basis: “There are some sites currently available, such as those which were previously part of Ethel Austin, although they are too small for us. There’s also Au Naturale, although they are not really in the right location.
“What we have tended to do more is to identify sites that we can develop - in the past, we have opened in former bowling alleys, cinemas, stations and car dealerships. So we are not dependent on acquiring sites by picking them up from other retailers.”
Spindler said The Original Factory Shop - owned by private equity company Duke Street Capital - does not have immediate plans to float. “We are not really looking at exit plans because we have so many growth opportunities as we are.”