Clarks is accelerating overseas growth with plans to open 100 franchise stores a year outside the UK.
International franchise operations manager Neil Roberts said the footwear giant had 1,500 stores worldwide, opening 48 last year.
But Clarks was “ramping up” growth now that it was able to support more franchises.
“Our strategy has a number of elements to it,” Roberts said, including new store design and the group’s “global operational platform”. “Each part of this helps our partners get the most out of working with Clarks.”
There is no emphasis on growth in any one territory, with plans to expand in Europe as well as other areas. “Our growth is everywhere simultaneously,” Roberts said.
Many UK retailers are forging ahead with their international expansion. Debenhams was this week reported to be seeking further stores in India. The department store chain is understood to want 15 shops across eight cities over the next two and a half years. At the moment it has just one.
Overseas growth helped Clarks top £100m in pre-tax profits in the year to January 31, for the first time in its 185-year history. The UK is a tougher market; chief executive Melissa Potter said at the time she expected it to remain “challenging” throughout 2011/12.
Clarks has stores throughout Europe, as well as in Russia, India, the Middle East and in 287 locations across China. It has local offices in each area to support the franchisees.
In June, it rolled out a global extranet, with digital agency Yucca, to improve communication and keep branding consistent.
“Ongoing support for partners is becoming more critical,” Roberts added.