Cotswold Outdoor plans to double store presence

Cotswold Outdoor is opening its first West End shop and plans to double UK store numbers in the next five years.

The retailer's 15th store will open in Piccadilly on July 13 selling hiking, camping and outdoor sports equipment.

The 8,000 sq ft (745 sq m) outlet, formerly occupied by Books etc, covers three floors and will offer 160 brand names.

Cotswold managing director Hans Falkenburg admitted Piccadilly has defeated many retailers, but said he intends to tailor the offer to local office workers and tourists. He added: 'It's not really a fashion location and the books sector is saturated by Waterstone's. Hence we have been able to do an attractive deal.'

Falkenburg said many medium and large outdoor retailers have come back fighting from the foot and mouth crisis in 2001.

He said: 'We believe we can double the chain in the next five years and even then we could go further.' Stores between 7,000 sq ft and 9,000 sq ft (650 sq and 835 sq m) will open through acquisition and organic expansion.

He said the UK outdoor market is estimated to be worth£1.3 billion a year.

Cotswold, with sales of£22 million, is owned by Belgian outdoor and fashion retailer AS Adventure.

It trades on its wide selection of brands, good service and interactive features, said Falkenburg.