Linens Direct goes back to value in hunt for profit

Linens Direct is back on the expansion trail, following a return to its grass-roots heritage in value retailing.

The bedspreads-to-blinds retailer fell into the red in 2002 after a shift upmarket turned off thrifty shoppers. However, a return to keener pricing at the chain has brought customers back.

Operations director Mark Zeff said: 'We have gone back to what we are good at, which is the successful formula we had at the beginning. We have created a more value look in stores, but have got rid of the rough edges. It is a more polished version.'

The retailer has reintroduced hand-written price tags to reinforce the value message.

Sales in the year to January 31 rose from£14.4 million to£15.3 million.

Pre-tax profits for the period were up from£121,787 to£151,144.

Zeff said shoppers were looking for either branded or value product and the retailer had felt the pinch in the middle market. It has reverted to type, offering aggressive deals such as quilt covers for£5.

Linens Direct continues to drive business efficiencies and is upgrading its EPoS system. The new system will enable suppliers to deliver direct to stores. The retailer has also increased the volume of product sourced in China, Pakistan and India.

The 28-store chain is concentrating on the Midlands and southwards for expansion, and expects to open another four stores this year.

A handful of underperforming shops have closed and there have been openings in locations such as Redhill, Romford and Redditch.