Eason plans to continue to open new stores “despite the fragile economic recovery,” its m.d Conor Whelan has revealed, beginning with a store in Limerick and another in Dublin.
The 4,000 sq ft Limerick store opened in the Crescent Shopping Centre in November and the new Dublin store located at Clare Hall Shopping Centre on the Malahide Road also nearly 4,000 sq ft, will open in March.
The two stores combined will create 30 new jobs, the company said, and is part of the retailer’s €2million investment its store estate in 2016.
The two new openings when complete will bring its number of company stores to 65 in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Whelan said: “Despite a fragile economic recovery and ongoing challenges in the retail market, our ambition is to continue growing and developing the Eason business and we’re very pleased to add these two highly sought after locations in Limerick and Dublin to our store estate.
“The stores will reflect the very considerable investment we’ve made in recent years to make our stores contemporary, exciting and inspiring destinations for our customers, offering an unrivalled product range and exciting new retail concepts, which have been very well received by our customers.”
He added that the company’s core books category was showing “positive signs of improvement” despite Ireland’s fragile economic recovery. “Our continued investment, both in new stores and ongoing transformation of our business, will help us deliver on our ambitious commercial growth strategy over the coming years,” he added.
Eason made a profit for the first time in five years for the year to end January 2016 after increasing sales by 9% to €147m (£126m) and returning a profit of €1.2m (£1.03m) in the year to 31st January 2016, up from a loss of €2.7m (–£2.32m) a year earlier.
In November Whelan told The Bookseller he hoped to open more stores—“one a year would be a good target”—and confirmed the company was on track to retain its profitability this year (end January 2017), with single-digit growth in revenues so far in 2016.
The retailer also plans to launch a new click and collect service in January, alongside a new rewards app for its loyalty card.