Belfast Telegraph

New chain needs to hit the ground running

By Donald McFetridge

News that plans are afoot for another new entrant, Pep&Co, to the Northern Ireland retail sector is to be widely welcomed - even if it is at the bargain basement end of the marketplace - as it will hopefully mean more jobs.

It is also good news for secondary high streets in smaller towns - particularly those without a Primark - because these are the locations which Pep&Co is known to favour.

The success of discount chains like Aldi, Lidl, B&M, Poundland, Poundworld and Home Bargains is proof positive that there is a market out there for those keen to seek out and spend money in bargain/discount chains.

The management team is certainly impressive, with personnel who have expertise and experience in New Look, Tu (Sainsbury's) and George (Asda) all spearheading the impressive rollout of a chain with aspirations to eventually have 1,000 stores.

However, the success, or failure, of Pep&Co ultimately rests with the consumer. Even "35-year-old mums" (the initial target market) have a threshold for cheap goods, and are far more discerning than some seem to think they are.

The discount end of the market is brutal, to say the least. Consumers shopping these outlets have the keenest of retail antennae. The days of cheap and cheerful food and clothing are numbered.

Discerning shoppers in all socio-economic, and lifestyle, groupings nowadays also want quality, at the right price.

Pep&Co need to quickly realise adequate sales volumes in order to prove to analysts that they will be capable - long-term - of establishing a lasting place in the retail landscape of tomorrow.

Belfast Telegraph