High-street retailer Wilkinson has unveiled plans for a major push north of the border and a significant expansion of its own-label offer.
The chain, which has 337 stores and tops The Grocer’s Top 50 ranking of independent grocery retailers, opened its first store in Scotland in January last year and has since opened four more stores.
Next month, the first of three further stores planned for 2010 would open in Greenock, family directors Lisa Wilkinson and Karin Swann revealed in its annual report. New stores in Livingston and Hamilton would follow.
Variety discounters have been slow to enter Scotland because their supply chains are restricted to just one distribution centre. Rival TJ Morris, which operates Home Bargains, opened its first stores in Scotland in 2008 and now has 11. B&M Retail, which operates B&M Bargains, has nine.
But Wilkinson and Swann said the new stores would be the first of many. “The opening of our new stores sees the realisation of a long-held ambition for Wilkinson and the start of big plans for north of the border,” they said.
The retailer also intended to boost its own-label offer following record own-label sales in 2009, they said. Sales were up 21% to £640m last year, with 35.9% of total sales generated by the 9,500-strong line-up.
It relaunched its value range Right Place as Wilko Everyday Value in the second half of 2009 and plans to add 400 new products this year. It is also introducing audits of UK own-label suppliers this year and reviewing own-label pack quality. “This new brand with its yellow look and simple quirky line illustrations will form the base of our own-brand offer,” Swann and Wilkinson said.
The retailer added that it would focus is environmental initiatives on three areas this year carbon, community and sourcing. In 2009 it had reduced road miles by 4% by introducing double-decker trailers and saved £766,183 through energy-saving initiatives such as adjusting lighting times to trading hours, it said.