Robert Dyas calls halt to four-year growth hiatus

Robert Dyas, the hardware specialist, has resumed its store-opening programme after a four-year break.

The 70-strong group wants to increase store numbers almost fivefold in its traditional southern England market, and may bid to become a nationwide player.

Chief executive Brent Wilkinson said: 'We have done extensive work on looking at property locations within our footprint and Robert Dyas could exist in another 250 locations.'

Two shops have opened so far this year, including a new design in Southampton.

Another five stores will open before the end of the financial year, including one in Windsor next month. Wilkinson said the issue is how fast the retailer can expand.

'I can go at modest speed, financing expansion from our own resources, and open around 10 a year, or we could go down the road of restructuring the business and accelerating that process,' he said.

Cash for growth could come from debt and equity and taking the business down a more geared route. Wilkinson said head office and systems will need to be strengthened to cope with any expansion. He said the existing head office infrastructure could cope with approximately 100 stores.

Wilkinson led an MBO of Robert Dyas in February 2001. Last year, the retailer produced a profit of£3 million on sales of£63.5 million, and sales are likely to reach£80 million this financial year. Like-for-like sales are up by approximately 13 per cent, according to Wilkinson.