TJ Morris plans ‘plenty’ of new NW stores

Joe Morris, retail director of Liverpool-based Home Bargains, said plans to expand from 170 to 500 stores would include new North West units.

Speaking after family-owned parent company, TJ Morris, reported turnover up 26% to £483m for 2009, Morris said: "The search for new store sites is nationwide, from Glasgow to Wales and the M4 corridor to outside the M25, but there is plenty of scope still in heartland of the North West."

The group, which trades from more than 190 stores, produced profit of £44m in the past year. Net value was put at £138.2m.

The company is currently expanding its warehousing capacity in Axis Business Park, Gillmoss, from 400,000 sq ft to 800,000 sq ft. The extension is high-bay, meaning the distribution capacity will increase fourfold.

Morris said the new facility will handle 350 stores but after that a further depot, probably in the Midlands, will be required. The 350-store milestone is expected to be reached in four years' time.

Morris said there were between 25 and 30 new units under offer at present, which is the typical rate of expansion.

The group's retained agent is independent retail specialist Nigel Bennett, partner at Liverpool-based Bennett. He said the expansion was opportunistic and there was 'a world of opportunity' in the market at present.

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I have spoken to Joe Morris on one occasion and Nigel Bennett on a number of occasions regarding opening a Home Bargains store in Kilmarnock or Irvine in Ayrshire. When speaking to Nigel I told him a vast number of empty premises in both towns, mainly Kilmarnock and he told me they had already located a possible location and the plan or proposal was with their lawyers but they were hoping to be opening in about six months or so but couldn’t say more? So I thought, great we’ll have a Home Bargains store in time for christmas – I’ve heard loads of great things about it! I mentioned this several weeks ago to someone I know and they got a friend to check this out and as it turns out Home Bargains will NOT be coming to Kilmarnock until sometime next year! It’s all very well having four or five stores in the Glasgow area but not everyone is able to travel due to medical conditions and also have to rely on public transport from a village outside of Kilmarnock at the same time. So it would probably take about four or maybe even five buses just to get to one your stores in Glasgow and then the same to get home again. So come on Joe and Nigel – pull your socks up, plenty of empty premises that are big enough for your stores in Kilmarnock – hurry up and bring Home Bargains to Kilmarnock!!!!!!

By Miss Nancy Picken