99p Stores has dropped its plans for a property restructure on selected stores as new chief operating officer Tony Brown today begins work to “enhance” store performance across the estate.
Retail Week revealed last week that 99p Stores had sent a letter to landlords informing them it had instructed commercial property restructuring specialist Cedar Dean to “urgently review the company’s leasehold portfolio”. 99p Stores told Retail Week the review concerned just four stores, which were each making a £100,000 loss.
But in a reversal of its plans 99p Stores has now scrapped the review and is no longer working with Cedar Dean. It has instead given Brown responsibility to “enhance store performance”.
99p Stores managing director Faisal Lalani said: “There is no review at the moment and Tony has his own ideas to manage the estate. He’s looking at different ways to improve the stores through productivity, top-line sales and improving margins.”
Lalani said that the losses 99p Stores is making on the four shops that were under review are “not very significant in the grand scheme of things”.
Brown said: “As is the case for any retailer, it is vital that we do everything we can to ensure each store in our portfolio is contributing positively to the business. That will my priority from today, with a focus on managing all aspects of the performance of both existing and new stores.”
Brown joined the retailer last month from value fashion chain Peacocks where he was interim managing director for six months from February to July this year. Prior to that he was managing director of Beales department store for five years.
The retailer also confirmed it will open 30 new stores across its 99p Stores and Family Bargains fascias in 2014, which will grow its store estate to 270 by the end of next year.
Separately, Lalani said the retailer’s transactional website was “progressing” and it expects to launch it next year. Its model will work by having a minimum 20 item order threshold for online customers and free delivery.
Lalani said: “Hopefully at 20 units the spend could absorb the delivery cost but we are still working out the science behind it.”
Value retailers have found it difficult to trade online because of the low price points and high operational costs connected with online. 99p Stores would be the first single-price point retailer to launch a transactional website.