Wilkinson scrambles for 300-store target

Northern retailer Wilkinson Hardware Stores plans to increase its portfolio by nearly a third, from 220 to 300 stores, over the next three years.

Wilkinson systems development controller Eddie Clerck said the retailer's expansion would be national. 'We cover most of England and plan to add 80 more stores. This might include some in Scotland,' he said.

Wilkinson successfully trades from a variety of sites - from 930 sq m to 3,715 sq m - both on the high street and edge-of-town. It plans to drive up annual sales from£1 billion to£1.5 billion and create 7,000 jobs, taking its workforce to 25,000 by 2006.

The growth will be helped by a logistics operation that is, according to Clerck, a 'critical part of our success' and has helped it achieve its aim of being dominant in each of the categories it operates in.

'We want to be the first destination on the high street for the products we sell - whether branded, own-branded or unbranded - at exceptional value.

We aim to be a classless retailer,' said Clerck.

Wilkinson's product categories are split into 12 core ranges, including DIY, kitchen and homewares, and pet care. Sales are growing on all fronts.

The group is also confident that it will continue to build sales of its own-brand Wilko range, which covers all categories, beyond the current 35 per cent of total group turnover.