Lakeland has announced plans for a major expansion of its operation that will see its UK presence grow by half, an accelerated drive for business overseas and huge investment in its distribution centre.
In the UK Lakeland already has a nationwide high street presence, with 60 stores from Aberdeen to Truro. The latest opening, in October 2012 was in Enniskillen, and the 61st and 62nd stores, in Milton Keynes and Edinburgh, are due to open their doors this spring.
Now, with 2012 sales the highest in the company’s history and the popularity of the Lakeland brand at an all-time high, the kitchenware and home solutions chain wants to capitalise on the success of its offer.
It says that over the next five years it plans to grow the number of its stores in the UK by around 50%, to some 100 outlets. In addition, with its ecommerce business currently generating double-digit sales growth in the UK, and with many thousands of existing customers living overseas, it wants to expand into other regions across the globe.
This summer the Lakeland brand will be launched in Germany with a dedicated website and catalogues for the German market, and further European growth is expected to follow.
There will also be increased development of the brand in the Middle East, with plans to double the number of stores in the region within the next two to three years. The seven existing stores, in Dubai, Oman, Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain are thriving, averaging a 25% increase in annual sales, and will soon be joined by a second store in Abu Dhabi. Later this year Lakeland will also begin operating in Saudi Arabia for the first time.
“We’ve been pleasantly surprised at how well the Lakeland brand has been received outside the UK,” says managing director Sam Rayner. “Essentially our customers overseas are looking for exactly the same things as our customers at home – quality, value and service combined with the latest in innovative kitchenware.”
To support its planned growth in the UK and internationally, the multi-channel retailer is also making a £10m investment in the expansion of its Kendal distribution centre.
At present Lakeland stocks over 4,000 products and introduces around 1,000 new lines each year. The new warehouse, which will be brought on line in 2014, will increase storage capacity by as much as 50%.
“We have an incredibly loyal and industrious workforce here in Cumbria,” continued Rayner; “therefore it is right for us to expand here. The infrastructure is already in place and it makes perfect sense for us to take this exciting step and to expand in this way.
“Whilst this is not the largest investment that has been made by Lakeland it’s seen as being one of the most significant as it’s being made at a time when the economy isn’t as favourable as has been experienced in the past. We’ve been holding off on this investment for a number of years but now feel that we need to prepare the company for the next phase of its development, and the expansion of the distribution centre is a key part of our plans for growth.”
It is envisaged that this, along with the opening of new UK stores will create up to 600 jobs over the next five years.