QD opens up old Woolies store

Expanding value store QD opened its latest Norfolk shop yesterday - and said it was still looking for another 10 this year.As customers poured back into the former Woolworths shop in North Walsham Market Place, QD managing director Justin Farrington Smith confirmed other Woolies were on their hit list of possibilities.

Expanding value store QD opened its latest Norfolk shop yesterday - and said it was still looking for another 10 this year.

As customers poured back into the former Woolworths shop in North Walsham Market Place, QD managing director Justin Farrington Smith confirmed other Woolies were on their hit list of possibilities.

"We look at the towns first, then what shops are available, and the empty shops, which can be Woolworths,"

he said.


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The company runs 29 stores in the East of England from Southend to Peterborough, and recently opened a new store in the former Beccles Woolworths.

Mr Farrington Smith said it saw an opening at North Walsham, and felt the town would "benefit from a QD type of operation."

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It was a value, rather than discount, retailer working on low margins and high volume.

At North Walsham, the new store was selling sugar at 66p, jeans at �2.99 and Dulux paint at �6.99, and he felt it would complement neighbouring Roys rather than compete - which was different, and sold more clothing.

But the search for more stores was down to finding "favourable landlords" as "we sell at half the price of Woolworths, so we need a lower rent level."

New stores could be in market towns, or larger towns, and even stand alone venues such as its sister store. Lathams of Potter Heigham, which comes under the QD umbrella.

The North Walsham reopening - official carried out by mayor Brian Wexler on a busy market day - has created 24 jobs under manager Simon Wade, including those of a handful of former Woolworths staff.

They included Carol Cox who said it was good to be back at the store after losing her job there in January, but added: "It feels different because of the layout, a coat of paint and new faces."

Chamber of trade chairman Colin Page said the arrival of QD was "a positive thing for a major empty shop to be filled by a retailer rather than a change of use."

He admitted there was "some trepidation" among traders about competition but felt most of them filled their own niche.

Mr Page said although "we would like to see Marks and Spencer or someone bring a quality store" to North Walsham, there were some signs of recovery in the town, with a new caf� and a closed down CD shop now being re-let.

And there were still ongoing

efforts to regenerate the town centre, with discussions over incentives such as a possible business rates-free period.

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