Providing a positive antidote to the doom mongering about the retail sector, sizeable greeting card stockists Scribbler, Utility and Between the Lines have all revealed their plans to open more stores this year.
“We are definitely looking to open more stores this year,” John Procter, co-founder of Scribbler told PG Buzz. “Although our plans to expand seem to be going against the tide somewhat, there are some very tempting deals out there that you would never have dreamt of three years ago. And if business rates go down then it makes it even more attractive.”
The retail group, which trades from 36 stores, opened a new store in Leeds, its largest to date, last November.
“Our new Leeds store has taken off like a rocket!”
Scribbler has reported that it saw decent Valentine’s trade despite the weather, with like-for-like sales up 4% up on for Valentine’s week.
Florian Kleinlercher, managing director of Between The Lines confirmed its plans to open three new stores this year saying the turning point in confidence was the General Election.
“Once the General Election was out of the way, we had a fantastic Christmas, our best ever December. From the 13th onwards, we were flying. Whether you agreed with the decision or not, people began spending again,” said Florian who heads up the 15-store group with his wife Lindsey and daughter Ellie.
As to the new shops, he revealed that there two locations earmarked in the South East of England, with a third shop planned for later in the year. “With everything that was going on last year, we put our expansion on hold, as we wanted to see how things would pan out but now it’s full steam ahead! We are looking forward to this year with a renewed confidence!”
Meanwhile lifestyle retailer Utility is also on the move. Having opened its first store in Manchester last year, it is now to open another one in the same city.
“It’s very exciting! We’re opening a second Manchester store in late spring,” revealed Steph Lloyd, retail buyer of Utility which is doing a roaring trade with greeting cards in its two Liverpool stores.
“Card sales have had a great start this year – we’re currently 33% up on the same period last year. We’ve been focusing on introducing newness and keeping our card selection fresh. We haven’t seen any specific changes in buying habits but we have noticed our customers appreciation of our increased offering of cello-free cards. All new own brand cards will be cello-free and with a card clasp.”
Top: Utility’s first Manchester store that opened last year.