Dragon battles bargain retailers with cut-price outlet

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BBC Online Dragon Shaf Rasul is going head-to-head with the high-street bargain retailers with the launch of a discount chain.

Rasul has teamed up with Duncan Sutherland, the former chief executive of Moss Bros, to open the first branch of BigOffers in Edinburgh next month.

If successful, the pair intend to roll out a string of the discount stores across the UK, selling everything from clothing to home entertainment gear.

Rasul has already dipped his toes into bargain retailing through a website he launched last year, bigoffers.co.uk. But with discount retailers continuing to enjoy a surge in popularity among hard-pressed shoppers, he has decided to test the concept on the high street.

Rasul, who also has IT and property interests, said: "BigOffers was launched as a discount e-tailer during Christmas last year and has fully exploited the trend of price-conscious consumer buying.

"I have known Duncan for a number of years now and we have identified an opportunity to launch the online no-frills deep discounter business model into a bricks-and-mortar retail format."

Sutherland, 50, also helped establish Matalan after being approached by its founder John Hargreaves in the mid-1980s to become the brand's first retail director.

He has worked in the retail industry since the age of 22 when he started out with FW Woolworth in Dundee, before moving to South Africa to pursue a career with Marks & Spencer.

Sutherland said of BigOffers: "We are in one of the deepest recessions this country has known and consumer trends show that people are looking for a bargain but not wanting to compromise on quality.

"The online format of the business has grown by responding to this trend and we believe there is a real opportunity to roll out the model into the store format."

He added: "The objective will be to use an established retail concept of keeping overheads low, sourcing goods through a diverse supply chain and passing these savings back to customers."

Sutherland and Rasul intend to trial BigOffers in Edinburgh for two months before deciding on a nationwide roll-out.

Earlier this year Rasul, who has an estimated wealth of 80 million, sold his gadget website, Geeks.co.uk, to a management buy-out team in what was believed to be a six-figure deal.

The online magazine was bought by its editor, Ally Millar, and Chris Bishop, a director at Geeks.

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