Shoe Zone is looking to open 10 new big box stores a year from 2017 if a trial being launched this summer is successful.
CEO Anthony Smith insisted today that ‘Project Big Box’ was a not a roll-out.
He said: “The impact of this will be in 2017 - if it is successful we will be opening 10 stores a year.”
The stores will stock 400 own brand and 400 branded lines in the larger stores, the first three of which will open in August.
The shops will be comprised of two existing larger stores, with the remaining store billed as a new location within the M25.
Smith added: “This is an exciting new avenue for us. We sell branded online which is what pushed us to do this.
“Some products are selling extremely fast which is why we think there is demand for this.
“We want to penetrate towns that we don’t have a standalone Shoe Zone and also penetrate the out-of-town market where we don’t figure at the moment.”
He explained that the value retailer was chasing a middle market demographic with the opening of the new stores, saying that bigger stores were “so much more profitable” and had “a broader range of stock which attracts a broader range of customers”.
Shoe Zone has closed a number of its smaller stores in recent years. The retailer estimates that it will have 115 small stores by February of this year, down from 164 in February 2014. In the same time period its larger stores have increased in number from 203 to 287.
The value retailer’s property strategy has seen it close around ten stores a year. In 2014 it boasted 545. By February that number should stand at 525. Smith said today that the number of store closures would continue at around 10 a year until stabilising at around 500 in 2018.
He insisted that Shoe Zone was not abandoning the high street in its latest venture, saying: “I’ve always maintained that the high street is here to stay. To say that it is dying is a load of rubbish. I am very confident that high street will be a great place to be in the coming years.”