Hobbycraft has developed a new high street store format so it can open more shops in Greater London.
The crafts and hobbies specialist, which usually trades from big-box stores on retail parks, is searching for 5,000 sq ft premises around the capital, rather than its usual 7,000 sq ft to 10,000 sq ft sites.
Hobbycraft chief executive Catriona Marshall told Retail Week the retailer has had to develop a smaller format designed for the high street because of the lack of suitable retail parks in the capital.
“We want to improve the coverage of our geography in high-density populations so we’ll have to go with a smaller format. We would want the stores to be around 5,000 sq ft to have a good product offer,” she said.
The product mix in the smaller stores is likely to be focused on Hobbycraft’s best-sellers.
Hobbycraft already has a “handful” of smaller stores, such as that on the outskirts of Staines in Surrey, which Marshall said worked “very well”. But Hobbycraft is now on a drive to up London store numbers. Marshall declined to say how many she hoped to open in the Greater London area.
She revealed that Hobbycraft is currently seeking its first site in southwest London, which she hopes to open this year.
The stores will be supported by Hobbycraft’s online offer through its click-and-collect and order-in-store services.
Marshall added: “We’re very excited about building a multichannel concept against that [Greater London] profile.”
Hobbycraft has been investing in its online offer and plans to relaunch its website as a responsive site at the end of August. It also intends to change its warehouse so all stock can be supplied online and to stores. At present online is supplied by a dedicated section of the warehouse.
Hobbycraft posted a £2.1m fall in EBITDA to £13.5m in the year to February 24, 2013 as it invested in its ecommerce capabilities, store development and a new distribution centre. Sales surged 12% to £119.1m.