Borders plans £30m portfolio overhaul

Bookseller Borders UK is investing£30 million in a refurbishment and expansion programme that will help grow the business to 100 stores.

The cash will fund the opening of 12 shops within the next two years.

The openings will take Borders' store count to 72, including Books etc outlets.

Borders UK managing director Philip Downer said the retailer could go on to reach 100 stores 'pretty comfortably', but gave no time frame.

He said of the planned refurbishment, which is scheduled to begin this summer with London's Oxford Street and Glasgow: 'It will make stores more attractive and so increase footfall and, hopefully, average spend.'

Borders shops will get new fixtures, signage and a layout similar to that piloted in the US at its Store of the Future in Louisville, Kentucky.

The first new superstores will open by November at Silverlink Retail Park near Newcastle and Birstall near Leeds, and will incorporate an 'evolving' and updated interior. Leases on seven others have been signed.

Downer said Borders International, to which the UK contributes the majority of sales, was 'already profitable and will become more so'.

Charles Stanley analyst Simon Proctor said: 'Ottakar's is expanding, Waterstone's is opening stores and WHSmith is talking about strengthening its books offer. Clearly it's a crowded market.'

However, he believed independent booksellers still presented a 'soft' target for multiples to increase their market share.

Other superstores confirmed include Manchester Fort Shopping Park, Brent Cross and Glasgow Fort Shopping Park, all of which are 20,000 sq ft to 25,000 sq ft.