“Top brands at bottom prices” is the motto driving TJ Morris, one of Britain’s most successful discount retailers. The Liverpool firm owns more than 200 Home Bargains stores in Britain, from Dundee to South Wales. Each shop stocks up to 4,000 product lines, so customers can get a bargain on anything from pet food and cosmetics to confectionery and toys.
The retail empire posted sales of £590.3m and operating profits of £48.5m this year, an impressive feat considering its humble origins. The business was founded in 1976 by Tom Morris, a young entrepreneur who opened his first store in Liverpool with the help of his shopkeeper father. Tom’s brother, Joe, joined the firm in 1999, and the company is still owned by Tom and his family trusts, whose fortune is estimated at £410m, according to the 2010 Sunday Times Rich List, up £222m on last year.
Over the past decade the firm has grown organically at a rate of between 20% and 25% a year. It has expanded from its traditional base in northwest England, launching its first stores in Wales in 2007, followed by openings in Scotland a year later. The business has also benefited from the recession by snapping up stores vacated by failing retailers. It has taken over 30 former Woolworth sites and last year it opened 35 shops.
Joe Morris, operations director, commented: “Our long-term goal is to become a national retailer, covering the whole of the UK.”
The stores are served by a Liverpool warehouse and distribution centre, which underwent a £35m renovation last year. The investment doubled the building’s footprint and increased storage capacity from 17,000 to 60,000 pallets. An automatic stock-picking system has also been implemented. The distribution centre can now supply 350 shops, and TJ Morris plans to reach this target by 2013. The company is already developing sites in Northern Ireland, where it unveiled a £25m plan to open up to 25 stores in the next three to five years.
TJ Morris predicts sales will top £1 billion by 2013 and staff numbers will climb to 12,000, an increase of more than 5,000 on its current payroll.
In the longer term, the retailer has ambitions to expand into southern and eastern England, and over the next decade, it expects to have 500 Home Bargains shops across the country.
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