Discount bookstore chain The Works has launched a new flagship store in Southampton, with plans to expand its innovations across many of the chain’s other outlets.
The Works has more than 300 stores around the country, focusing on books at low prices, alongside products such as stationery, toys, and arts and craft materials.
Company c.e.o. Kevin Keaney said the new store in Southampton, which opened on 18th October and boasts 2,700 sq ft of floorspace, represented the kind of shop the business wanted to create in future. The new, larger store has been divided into specific "zones", including a "We love books" zone, a kids’ zone, a stationery zone and an arts and craft zone, creating a clearer layout with a greater range of products. Keaney said that while he wanted to keep the "Aladdin's cave" quality of The Works, emphasised in its slogan, "What will you discover?", the store benefited from moves like putting its arts and craft books alongside materials.
"We've put a lot of investment in and done a lot of research into the kind of store we want, and this is the direction we want going forwards," he said. "A lot of our customers are mums with prams and buggies, so having a larger space and more clearly defined product areas helps make it a nicer environment."
Keaney added: "In a couple of weeks since opening, the Southampton store has become one of the top three in sales across the whole country, so we feel like it’s doing something right." The c.e.o. said the chain was "passionate" about books, which make up around half of its £120m annual sales. "Places like Waterstones are great for having that huge library of books, but we are doing something different. You might not find the latest J K Rowling, but we have a big range. We have very good relationships with publishers, and are especially proud of our children’s books, some of which are exclusive to us. We put them right at the front of our stores."
Keaney also said the company was increasing its online presence. "We are still expanding on the high street, not aggressively, but still opening new stores when the opportunity arises," he said. "But we are becoming increasingly multi-channel as well, and growing our website and sales through that."
He added: "We're confident going into Christmas, the climate is tough but books are still a very personal gift for people and we sell high quality products at fantastic prices."
The Works was launched in 1981 and boasts of serving more than 22.5 million people each year.