DIY retailer Wickes is opening standalone kitchen and bathroom stores to expand geographically and soak up market share left by MFI’s collapse in 2008.
The 200-store retailer, which has revealed ambitions to grow its total portfolio to 350 stores, will open the shops under the Wickes Kitchens & Bathrooms fascia. The first two will open at Christchurch in Dorset and Crawley in West Sussex today, in time for the Easter trading period.
A third will open in northwest London’s West Hampstead.
The shops, which are a trial, will range from 5,000 sq ft to 10,000 sq ft. An average Wickes store covers 31,000 sq ft. The shops will open in a mixture of retail park and high street locations.
Jeremy Bird, managing director of Travis Perkins-owned Wickes, said: “The Kitchens & Bathrooms stores will allow us to get access to catchments we don’t already have stores in, and where it is hard to get the planning for a big store. Smaller spaces are easier to find.”
He added that while there is little more growth to come from the “one-off event” of MFI’s failure in November 2008, there is still a portion of the £400m gap left in the kitchens and bathrooms market to play for.
Wickes ramped up its kitchen and bathroom ranges in the wake of MFI’s administration, launching its first TV ads at that time.
Bird said: “Kitchens and bathrooms are performing extremely well. We have taken share this year again. If these stores are successful we will roll them out. They are relatively low-cost properties.”
The retailer is also looking at opening smaller-format stores with the full Wickes offer. Bird said the retailer could open 20,000 sq ft shops, and thinks Wickes “can go even smaller than that without reducing the range too much”.
Rival Focus DIY is also planning to open smaller-format stores, with about 12,000 sq ft of selling space.
Last week Wickes launched next-day delivery on all its products, including bulky goods, which Bird believes is a world first. “It is part of being a big multichannel retailer; it is one of our big strategies,” he said.