George Wimpey mulls decision to open 21 home outlets in UK

House builder Wimpey expects to make a decision later this year on opening a chain of home improvement outlets across the UK.

The first 3,500 sq ft (325 sq m) showroom store - known as Option Centre - opened in Edinburgh last May.

The store carries 3,500 products, including floorings, tiles, furniture and appliances.

Sales to Wimpey home buyers in its East Scotland region doubled over five months to an average of£10,500 per person.

The centre is a step up from the smaller, more limited sales centres and show homes that Wimpey operates at regional locations. It also draws on the success the company has had with the format in the US.

A larger, 6,700 sq ft (620 sq m) outlet has also opened recently at Cannock, Staffordshire, and five more will make their debuts this year.

Sales of furnishing products at Wimpey were£57.6 million last year, an increase of 24 per cent on 2002.

George Wimpey Retail managing director Jon Kinsey said the initial stores are a test.

He added that a decision will be taken in 'several months', which may lead to centres opening at 21 regional offices.

Numis analyst Mark Hughes described the potential for the sale of home improvement products as 'enormous'.

He said he had visited the Edinburgh outlet and had been 'impressed with the offer, layout and potential of the centre'.