Matalan is to make its overseas debut in the Middle East, with 15 stores opening in the region over the next five years.
The value fashion retailer, which this week revealed an 89 per cent increase in full-year pre-tax profits to £53.2 million, has signed an agreement with a Qatari franchise partner to roll out full-line stores in the region.
Matalan chief executive Alistair McGeorge told Retail Week that the retailer needs “to start the journey and prove what we can and can’t do”, before training its sights on India for its second overseas venture.
The retailer, which was taken private in 2006 in a deal worth more than £800 million led by founder John Hargreaves, will also launch a transactional web site “as quickly as possible” according to McGeorge, with “a distinct number of brands”.
This week, a new design team lured from Debenhams’ young women’s fashion brand Red Herring (Retail Week, April 11) began work on the launch of a fashion own-brand to target a wider demographic.
McGeorge said: “We are trying to appeal to a broader church. We are trying to give our customers more reasons to come to us.”
The as yet unnamed young women’s fashion brand will appeal to an 18- to 35-year-old age range – younger than Matalan’s core 30- to 60-year-old demographic.
Matalan is in the second phase of its revitalisation under private ownership. Having reduced its cost base by £10.9 million during the year to March 1 and put product teams in place, it will focus on growing the brand and improving the in-store experience, said McGeorge.
The retailer will spend a further £19 million this financial year on store refurbishments, up from the £18 million spent last year. It is seeking additional sites to expand its 202-strong store portfolio.
Since the year end, McGeorge said trading had been “difficult”.
He added: “We are positive about what we are doing. Will the consumer reaction be more muted than we would like? Maybe.”