TJ Hughes to ramp up expansion

Discount department store group TJ Hughes is redrawing its property roadmap to reflect ambitious expansion plans.

PPM Ventures, a backer of last year’s MBO, has parachuted in former WHSmith retail managing director Robin Dickie to replace chief executive George Foster, who left last week. Dickie’s appointment is immediate, with Foster accepting an undisclosed package.

Dickie has been charged with transforming the 38-store chain into a ‘national force in discount retailing’. The expansion target has been set at 50 stores, but he said that now looked like a conservative estimate.

‘It is early doors,’ said Dickie. ‘However, the ultimate size of this business, if you want to stick national in front of it, has to be more than 50.’

Chairman Neil McCausland said the business was generating a ‘decent’ level of return. ‘PPM is pleased with this investment so far, but believes it has far greater potential than it is fulfilling at the moment. George has done a great job, but Robin has a different set of skills and is the right person to take on a different, more aggressive phase of growth.’

McCausland said the retailer has a healthy cash balance to fund openings, with PPM willing to invest more if necessary.

TJ Hughes opened a 65,000 sq ft (6,040 sq m) store at Watford in Hertfordshire on Wednesday. The assortment includes men’s jeans at £4.