Index takes on Argos with massive expansion push

Index plans to open 100 retail park stores over the next few years to compete harder with arch-rival Argos.

The retailer, owned by the Barclay brothers and demerged earlier this year from Littlewoods Stores, will open its first two such shops imminently in Manchester.

Index chief executive Tim James said that there is scope for Index to significantly increase store numbers, considering that Argos has 567 shops in the UK.

He said: 'We will begin an aggressive roll-out plan next year. There are at least a further 100 locations in the UK that can support an Index.'

Index's first retail park store opens on September 24 at Hulme, Greater Manchester, followed by a second at The Fort Shopping Centre, also in Manchester, next month. The outlets have 4,000 sq ft (370 sq m) and 3,500 sq ft (325 sq m) of sales space respectively.

The retailer has developed a new store design, tested in locations such as Liverpool and Guildford, that will be used as a blueprint. James said that it allows Index to showcase more key products, such as electricals and toys.

The approach will be applied to Index's 62 standalone stores. The retailer has another 100 outlets within Littlewoods stores.

Index is also to launch its first TV ad campaign in October. The ads will be screened in its North and Northwest heartland. James said that Index has moved back into positive like-for-like sales territory this year. The retailer has annual sales of about£400 million.