Poundstretcher revamp will double number of stores

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The Independent Online

Brown & Jackson plans to nearly double the number of its Poundstretcher stores to 650 as part of radical overhaul of the discount chain.

There are currently 340 branches of Poundstretcher but Angus Monro, the former Matalan boss who took over at Brown & Jackson last year, says there is scope to open another 300 over the next 10 years.

Mr Monro also plans to change the name of the shops and will test a new fascia later this year. "Tests are under way with staff and customers and we'll start a trial in the autumn," he said.

The comments came as Brown & Jackson unveiled a £23m loss for the 33 weeks to 22 February after heavy exceptional charges. As previously announced there were £20m of exceptionals to cover asset impairment charges and the costs of closing and relocation of certain outlets.

However, Mr Monro said customers were responding to better ranges and improved store lay-outs. Like-for-like sales in current trading are up 5.5 per cent on last year with half the growth coming from new ranges in areas such as babywear and kitchen products.

The group is cutting costs by moving away from sourcing goods from wholesalers and importers to buying direct from factories. Direct sourcing will account for 25 per cent of group sales by the autumn, Mr Monro said, and 40 per cent by next year.

Mr Monro said he was relaxed about the outlook for consumer spending. "I think those fears are a bit overdone. We're trading perfectly well."

The shares closed unchanged at 77p, having doubled since Mr Monro joined last August. Brown & Jackson is now focused solely on the Poundstretcher business after selling loss-making chains such as What Everyone Wants, Your More Store and the Famous Brunswick Warehouse.