Homeware chain Dunelm, of Syston, may create new store in Leicestershire
Homeware chain Dunelm has said it will consider opening a fifth store in the county.
The Syston group wants to grow its branch network by more than 60 over the next few years, with particular focus on the south.
Chief executive Nick Wharton said the company may look at launching an out-of-town superstore in the Market Harborough area.
The business, which has grown steadily throughout the recession, opened 10 stores in the second half of last year, taking its total to 133, with all but nine of these being superstores.
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Dunelm, the UK's largest homeware retailer, aims is to get to 200 superstores, although it has not given a timescale. It already has stores in Thurmaston, Loughborough, Coalville and Hinckley. The firm closed its Leicester city centre store in 2011.
Mr Wharton said: "There's possibly a long-term target there (Market Harborough). The real opportunity is trying to target the south of the country."
Dunelm has six stores within the potentially lucrative M25 area and wants to expand its presence there.
However, it is unwilling to pay over the odds for property, preferring to wait for attractive deals.
"It's very difficult because it's very much driven by opportunity," said Mr Wharton. "We know the catchment areas where we want to be, but we are willing to be quite patient to make sure we get the right deals with landlords."
The group yesterday said a 2.2 per cent rise in like-for-like sales – which only includes stores open for at least a year – in the six months to December 29 meant it had boosted its slice of the £11 billion-a-year UK homeware market.
The company increased half-year pre-tax profit by 14.6 per cent to almost £60 million, while total revenue rose by 13.4 per cent to £340.1 million. Last year, Dunelm leapfrogged John Lewis to become the UK's largest retailer of homeware goods. Retail market specialist Verdict said it held a 6.9 per cent slice of the market, compared to 6.8 per cent for John Lewis.
Dunelm's market share is now thought to be 7 per cent or more, although Verdict is yet to confirm this.
The business was started on a Leicester market stall in 1979 by Coalville couple Bill and Jean Adderley.
Based at Watermead Business Park, Syston, the group employs more than 300 people in Leicestershire and another 6,700 nationwide.