The Birmingham businessman who created the hugely successful Poundland format is set to go upmarket for his next venture – with plans to launch a nationwide chain of “aspirational” general product stores.
Dave Dodd, who co-founded Poundland in 1990 and made millions from the firm, has revealed plans to open a chain of variety stores under the brand name Hub – with the first three scheduled to open in June this year, and a further nine within its first year of trading.
Although Mr Dodd has said it was unlikely any of the first three will be in the Birmingham area, his new company is operating from a Solihull base as it finalises the design of what he promises will be a “fresh and contemporary” retail environment.
Mr Dodd said Hub would appeal to aspirational shoppers who want quality at an affordable price.
He said it was difficult to compare Hub to other retail competitors, but drew a parallel between the experience of shopping at TK Maxx and his vision for Hub.
Mr Dodd explained: “We want to offer the emotional experience that people get when they go to TK Maxx and they find a designer label at an affordable price.
“But for TK Maxx, homewares are an ancillary product and we are not going to be selling fashion – I would say we would be great neighbours rather than competitors.”
Despite continued economic uncertainty taking its toll on the high street, Mr Dodd believes a combination of positioning and an ability to take advantage in changes in the retail property market mean now is a good time to launch a venture like Hub. He said: “The idea I have always had for a mid-market variety concept was driven by the fact that there was nobody in the mid-market that was doing anything like as good a job at variety as they could have done.
“Hub has no track record – the track record is me and what I have done previously.
“The concept has struck a chord with all the people that we have explained it to in terms of landlords and suppliers because it’s clear that the mid-market at the moment is very poorly served.”
In terms of finding retail property, Mr Dodd believes the recession has opened up opportunities that retailers can take advantage of.
He believes his break from the sector could be an advantage.
Mr Dodd said: “I have been around for a long time and have seen three cycles in retail property.
“Looking at it from the outside leads us to believe that if you are starting afresh, this is a good time to be doing it because landlords are far more realistic about their rental expectation and lease terms are better.”