HobbyCraft doubles its growth plan

Strong sales and a weak property market leads arts and crafts retailer to double the rate of its store expansion programme.
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Hobbycraft plans to open at least eight stores in the year to February 2010 as opposed to its traditional growth rate of four a year.

The retailer will open five stores before Christmas in Harlow, Hull, Solihull, Thanet and Aberdeen and plans for another before the end of the year.

It will also open a store in Peterborough in early 2010. So far this year the firm has also opened a shop in Fort Kinnaird in Edinburgh.

Chief executive Chris Crombie said: “It’s a brilliant time to be opening stores. Landlords are keen to let space.”

Retailers can currently secure good property deals and are in a good position to sign deals on their terms. Crombie said at one retail park, the landlord offered a £750,000 incentive to take the site.

Crombie also pointed out that the employment market is good for retailers and it has taken on many former Woolworths staff.

In the 24 weeks to August 9th, like-for-like sales rose 10.3 per cent while total sales were up by 24.2 per cent. The 39-store retailer plans to grow to 180 stores over the medium term.

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