F. Hinds has suggested that the flip side of the economic challenges facing the retail sector is that more attractive property opportunities are beginning to emerge, making it more viable for the business to expand its store network.
The national jewellery chain currently operates 115 stores in the UK and directors at the firm say the strength of its balance sheet means that any new openings can be funded through internal resources rather than external borrowings.
In its financial accounts for 2017, published with Companies House this week, the company said it is well-placed to capitalise on shifts in supply and demand among property sellers. “As the retail landscape has changed considerably, F. Hinds remains a desirable tenant for any landlord seeking a longer term and stable tenant,” it stated.
While store launches form an important part of the company’s organic growth strategy, it also remains fully focused on investing in its existing branch network. Emphasis continues to be placed on refurbishing stores to make them brighter and more appealing, it said.
Directors acknowledged the need to promote the company both on the high street and online, and have subsequently allocated more resources to improving and updating its website.
The company added: “The online shopping experience is now fully integrated with in-store systems as they are based on the same technology platform. While the board does not expect online to replace all physical locations, it does appreciate the advantage that a joined-up ‘bricks and clicks’ strategy can bring to retailers in a competitive market place. The website offer is regularly reviewed and customer service staff liaise closely with stores with the aim of giving a seamless experience, no matter which shopping channel our customers choose.”
F. Hinds stores are typically based in town and regional shopping centres, as well as traditional high street locations.
During the year it closed two branches, with high rates and rent costs a factor in its decision, while one branch relocation took place at Merry Hill Shopping Centre in Birmingham.
The last 18 stores that F. Hinds has opened have all been based within shopping centres, underscoring the prohibitive level of rates associated with high street locations.