Swedish hardware chain Clas Ohlson is ramping up its UK expansion plans as it explores its long-term ambitions for Europe.

The retailer will open up to 10 UK stores in the next 12 months on the back of the successful opening of its debut store in Croydon in October. It had previously planned four to six stores in the same period. It opened its second store in Manchester’s Arndale Centre last week.

Clas Ohlson UK managing director Mark Gregory said: “Our aspirations are high for the UK.

The economy we’re in is a challenge but we’re taking a very considered approach. Strong brands do well in good times and bad. We’ll establish a really strong foundation in the UK then we’ll look outside it. We have European ambitions.”

Gregory said he is looking for sites and has “interest lodged” with various landlords. He said the retailer will concentrate its initial store openings in the northwest and southeast of England.

The 90-year-old publicly listed retailer has about 100 stores in Sweden, Norway and Finland.

Clas Ohlson, which dubs itself the “really useful shop”, sells 10,000 product lines across homewares, electricals, hardware, DIY, multimedia, bicycle and car accessories.

Gregory said the Croydon store has been “very well received by consumers” and that the UK business is “building nicely”.

“Croydon was a new concept for the organisation. The store design is very contemporary and different to anything on the high street,”
he said.

The retailer is “very competitively priced” and suits the “make do and mend” attitude, Gregory added. “We would rather everyone fixed things than replace things; this is where we have a role to play.”

He said Clas Ohlson’s pricing, service levels and breadth of offer are “key parts of the proposition”.

Clas Ohlson has “significantly invested” in marketing to support its store openings, using billboard ads, local radio and catalogues, said Gregory. “It’s a challenge to get our name across.”