July 31 2014 Latest news:
Kath Sansom, .
Thursday, July 17, 2014
A major electrical retail group has revealed it is looking at Wisbech for a possible new store.
Hughes said Wisbech is being considered as it announced they are to close branches in Colchester, Woodbridge and Bowthorpe and pull the plug on its Bennetts brand as part of a strategy to put internet shopping at the heart of the business.
Managing director Robert Hughes said the Lowestoft-based company – which employs 800 people and is forecast to turnover £108m this year – was looking to set up new Hughes Plus stores in Bury St Edmunds and West Norfolk, with Wisbech earmarked as possible location.
He said: “We have called it Hughes Plus because it will have so many features that our other shops cannot have.
“They will have installation vehicles that will follow you home with your product, as well as full built-in ranges, including audio and imaging.
“It will have free customer parking for cash and carry, and more room for back up stock.
“We see the growth in the business coming from the people who now research online before they buy,” he added. “Later this summer we will offer a service where that customer can view a product online and then find out whether our shop assistants are available to give them a free demonstration in store.”
Mr Hughes stressed it was vitally important for the company to have a presence in East Anglia’s market towns.
“A lot of big online companies are now trying to set up local outlets because they know that consumers don’t want to see their high streets die, so they will support local shopping.
“We are the only electrical retailer in Hunstanton and Southwold, for example. There is a need to have a specialist in each town, but you have to have some form of back up stock and a range of parking.
“If we hadn’t changed our model, then we wouldn’t be sitting here now,” he added. “And that is the problem for many retailers who don’t have the capital or the ability to adapt to the changes on the high street.”