Topps Tiles could open up to 60 of its new small-format Boutique stores as it aims to expand faster, offer customers more convenience and raise awareness of the brand.
The three-store trial will launch in Walton-on-Thames in January, followed by a second shop in Clapham. A third will open in a yet-to-be confirmed location.
The stores will cover 1,000 sq ft, compared with the average 5,000 sq ft Topps Tiles shop, and will be located on high streets. Chief executive Matt Williams told Retail Week: “It will be the best of Topps squeezed into a smaller format.
“It’s around convenience and putting the brand in front of more people. We’re constrained by the existing Topps Tiles model of 5,000 sq ft. It’s a constraint on our growth. It’s not easy to get 5,000 sq ft in Mayfair.”
He added the smaller stores will feature half the range while deploying “different merchandising treatments”. “There will be a focus on inspiration and design,” Williams said. “They will be three quarters of the cost of a traditional store but we’re targeting a similar return on investment.”
Williams said Topps Tiles will wait until the end of March to determine whether to roll out the format. He stressed it is a trial but added that, if the stores prove successful, the retailer could have 60 eventually. Williams added: “If it’s a success we can push forward. The availability is there. Finding the stores will not be a problem.”
The initiative comes as Topps Tiles reported robust full-year figures this morning. Adjusted pre-tax profit was up from £12.8m to £13m in what Williams described as a “tough market”. In the year to September 28, group revenue edged up from £177.7m to £177.8m. Like-for-like sales slipped 0.5% in the period, but jumped 7.4% in the first eight weeks of the new financial year.
Williams said the improved performance was driven by a better market but also by Topps Tiles’ own efforts. He said that improvements in both the housing market and consumer confidence had positively affected the retailer’s performance. “We’ve seen some strong economic data coming through on that. People are feeling more confident,” he said.
He added: “It’s been a good year. We were successful in our goal of delivering profitable market share growth.”
Market share increased to 28.5% from 27% in 2012, and the retailer aims to increase its hold on the market to a third. Williams said Topps Tiles will be particularly well placed to reach the target when the market bounces back. He said the real test for the market will be the second quarter, from January to March. “In previous years customers have taken time to come back after the new year,” said Williams. “It’s all around how they’re feeling after Christmas and how much they spend.”
Topps Tiles continues to benefit from consumers’ desire for inspiration said Williams. He noted a continuing “change in tastes”, with shoppers being “more adventurous”. “We’ve had a new range coming in every week and we’re looking to up that,” he said.