What Next? Retailer to open garden centres in new stores

The rush by M&S and Next to open out-of-town shops shows a confidence in their brands
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The Independent Online

Next intends to open stores with garden centres as part of its plan for bigger stores to sell its full range of clothing and homewares.

The high street retailer hopes to agree a deal to open a store on the south coast in Shoreham at a former Homebase DIY store. It is planning to sell both clothing and homewares in the 50,000 sq ft store, as well as garden furniture and other outdoor products in its outdoor garden centre.

Next is also said to be looking at introducing coffee shops into its bigger stores, a move that follows M&S, which has put cafes into many of its larger shops.

A retail property expert at CB Richard Ellis said the deal at Shoreham is the latest move by the larger UK retailers such as M&S and Next to open more large out-of-town stores.

Dominic Walton, a director of CB Richard Ellis, said: "The Shoreham deal underpins the general vogue for bigger stores in out-of-town locations. That M&S is now looking for 'flagship stores' is demonstrated with the opening of the 200,000 sq ft Cheshire Oaks store. The move for larger stores by Next and M&S shows these retailers have confidence in their brands to attract customers to destination stores."

Opening stores on prime retail space in the UK is still highly competitive. Next's plan to open fewer larger stores but extend its existing stores, rather than open lots of smaller shops, follows the route taken by many retailers for the past three years.

Next opened its first Next Home store at a retail park in Braehead, Scotland, in 2003 and a second in Lakeside three years later. It plans to open seven new Next Home stores by the end of January.

With its latest half-year results, Next's chief executive, Simon Wolfson, said: "We have focused on extending or moving within existing trading locations and opening new Next Home stand-alone stores. This year, we anticipate adding around 336,000 sq ft of trading space."

A Next spokesman said it was too early to comment on the Shoreham store, which is likely to be open for business by next autumn.