Wickes trials first smaller concept store

Wickes is introducing smaller store formats on the high street as part of the DIY retailer’s wider plans to test new revenue streams.

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The retailer has opened a trial 700-sq ft high street store in Tunbridge Wells, adding to its existing 200-plus portfolio, which mainly consist of 25,000 – 30,000 sq ft stores in retail parks as well as some kitchens and bathrooms showrooms on the high street.

The store will offer 5,000 products, with a further 4,000 available to order for next-day from in-store catalogues.

Simon Holder, multi-channel development director at Wickes, says the format allows the retailer to test a number of different areas, including the high street, and trial swapping retail space for higher distribution costs.

He says: “This is very much a trial on a bigger road map. It brings into sharp focus how we can really tighten up our merchandise and have a denser offer of products. It’s a trial of how high street stores can work for us.”

“This allows us to experiment with customer centric people who understand the offer. So [looking at] how can we drive [sales] using people,” adds Holder.

The DIY retailer, which will look to roll out further trials next year, will be hoping the new focus will turn around slipping sales. In its most recent results like-for-likes dropped 0.5% in the 39 weeks to October 1.

Wickes will also launch its first mobile site in January and is exploring rolling out apps for tablets in a bid to drive digital sales, which together with its catalogue have been climbing 20% year-on-year.

The retailer follows a number of other retailers including John Lewis and House of Fraser in launching smaller store formats.

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