Edinburgh Woollen Mill set to roll out 100 extra stores

RETAIL empire Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group has outlined plans for a further 100 stores after recording strong sales and record profits.

Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group currently has more than 1,000 stores across the UK

The firm, which in addition to its eponymous stores owns the Peacocks chain, fashion house Jane Norman, homewares retailer Ponden Mill and golfing brand Pro-Quip, said the two-year opening programme would create hundreds of jobs.

Continued investment in the store estate will see the group open 53 outlets in the current year, including five new overseas stores – creating some 800 posts. It will also further refresh its existing operations as it targets the organic growth of both its Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Peacocks brands.

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The Langholm-based group currently operates more than 1,000 stores across the UK, as well as hundreds of concessions and various online operations, and employs more than 10,000 staff.

News of the expansion came yesterday as the firm’s latest set of accounts revealed annual sales of £562.6 million, up from £551.9m a year earlier, thanks to “strong” like-for-like sales across the group and continued investment in its online and mobile platforms.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) lifted 16 per cent to £100.9m, while profit before tax jumped 28 per cent to £91.2m. It opened a total of 71 stores in the UK and Ireland during the period.

Steve Simpson, group commercial director for Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group, said: “Each of our brands has its own core focus, but they are united in their determination to reward strong customer loyalty with excellence in quality, value for money, and customer service.

“As well as opening more than 50 stores during the current year, we are now actively looking for new sites both here in the UK and overseas with a target of opening a further 100 new stores in the next two years.”

The group has seen a big jump in turnover since it bought “value” fashion retailer Peacocks out of administration in 2012.

The business, founded in 1884 by market trader Albert Peacock as a penny bazaar, has received more than £150m in investment since 2012. It now has 477 stores in the UK and Ireland, with international operations in a further eight countries.

Peacocks grew sales by 8 per cent to £351.7m during 12 months to 28 February. Online sales at the brand rose by 62 per cent, including a 154 per cent increase in purchases made on mobile devices aided by the implementation of a new mobile optimised platform. Online sales were up by 23 per cent at Jane Norman.

The Edinburgh Woollen Mill business saw positive like-for-like sales, although it recorded slightly reduced total turnover of £166.2m – down from £168.5m – after closing a small number of underperforming stores. Sales in “destination” towns such as Oban and Fort William rose due to strong numbers of overseas visitors keen on buying British, the group added.