Cotton Traders clocks up motorway store

Rugby and leisurewear retailer Cotton Traders is testing shops at motorway service stations as it drives its travel retail business.

Cotton Traders founder and former England rugby captain Fran Cotton said that travel retail was an important part of the company's growth strategy, and the potential for motorway stores was significant. 'People don't realise how many people stop at service stations every day,' he said. 'The market positioning for our customer is right - we think it's the right strategy that will work for us.'

A 600 sq ft (55 sq m) test store, fully owned by the company, has just opened at Evesham Road Chef on the M5 northbound near Upton upon Severn. Depending on its success, Cotton said that more stores could follow.

Cotton Traders has been building its travel retail offer with shops at UK airports. There are five outlets at the moment, and the retailer sees the potential for between 16 and 20 UK shops in the future.

Cotton Traders retail director Nick Hamblin is also working on an enhanced format to extend the retailer's high street presence. Its first high street store opened at Basingstoke last year.

Results posted at Companies House show that Cotton Traders recorded a 44 per cent leap in pre-tax profits to£2 million in the year to January. Sales came to£45 million. Store sales account for 13 per cent of the business.