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Expansion of retail chain

Edinburgh Woollen Mill to open 100 stores over two years

Edinburgh Woollen MillEdinburgh Woollen Mill Group, the fashion to textiles retailer, is to open 100 stores in the next two years after recording strong sales and record profits.

In what will be seen as a positive sign for the struggling high street, investment by the group this year will see 53 stores open, including five overseas, creating 800 jobs. That figure will double as the company builds on its existing 1,000 outlets and hundreds of concessions.

The group employs 10,000 staff in the UK and Ireland in clothing chains EWM, Peacocks and Jane Norman, homeware retailer Ponden Mill, and golfing brand Pro-Quip,

It is targeting growth of its Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Peacocks brands.

Steve Simpson, group commercial director, said: “Edinburgh Woollen Mill was already a category leader in over-40s fashion, and further broadening its demographic will only help it to continue its growth, both here in the UK and overseas.

“Peacocks, meanwhile, is benefiting from a truly omni-channel approach comprising online, mobile and high street, as well as out of town stores and concessions.

“While this has helped boost sales across both brands, control of sourcing and input prices has helped deliver strong margin growth.

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

Sales at the group – which opened 71 stores in the UK and Ireland in the year to the end of February – increased to more than £562.6m (2014: £551.9m), with profits before tax rising by 28% to £91.2m (2014: £71.3m).

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation was up 16% to £100.9m (2014: 86.9m).

The Edinburgh Woollen Mill saw positive like-for-like sales, although it recorded slightly reduced total sales of £166.2m (2014: £168.5m) after closing a small number of underperforming stores.

Online sales grew by 15%, partly because of an enhanced e-commerce platform allowing ‘in store’ ordering and click and collect. It also increased its range to include ladies’ as well as men’s fashion, helping it broaden its customer base.

Peacocks, which focuses on value fashion for the entire family, grew sales by 8%t to £351.7m (2014: £324.9m).

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

Online sales at Peacocks rose by 62%, including a 154% increase in purchases made on mobile devices aided by the implementation of a new mobile optimised platform. Online sales rose by 23% at Jane Norman.

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