Kiddicare.com has seen a major boost to its high street presence, with the news that its parent company Morrisons today agreed to take over the leases of 10 former Best Buy stores for its use.
The leading online nursery retailer will invest about £15m to convert the stores for its use, taking it in one step from one nursery showroom in its home town of Peterborough – billed as Europe’s largest kids store – to 11 large stores in sites including Bristol, Enfield, Croydon, Derby and Nottingham.
Scott Weavers-Wright, chief executive of Kiddicare, said: ”These 10 flagship stores will put Kiddicare within easy driving distance of nearly a third of the UK population. As well as being fantastic destination superstores for families across the country, they are the ideal platform for Kiddicare.com to lead the baby market by giving a true multichannel experience.”
The first new store is expected to open by autumn 2012. Which one that is will be decided by customers voting through social media. All of the stores will then be rated on the customer service experience they deliver, in a move that Kiddicare hopes will set itself apart from its competitors.
Visitors to the stores will be able to buy through apps on mobile devices, kiosks and online. Free next-day delivery in one hour time slots is offered as standards. Some 700 new jobs are expected to be created as a result of today’s news.
All 10 of the new stores were previously Best Buy stores, operated by US multichannel innovator Best Buy in a joint venture with the UK’s Carphone Warehouse. However the decision was taken late last year to close the stores because they had not become profitable.
Our view: Figures have historically shown that multichannel retailers grow their online sales more quickly than their pureplay rivals. Look up the IMRG/Capgemini eRetail Index on this website to find out the truth of that. The logic, therefore, is that online retailer Kiddicare will prosper with the addition of the stores.
But is that true for this sector? This news puts Kiddicare in competition with Mothercare, a company which has of late reported falling sales in the UK, including in its ecommerce channel. Will Kiddicare, with its acknowledged online technological advances, succeed as a high street retailer where longstanding veteran Mothercare has not? We wait to find out.