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Matalan specialises in homeware, clothes and mobile phones in the United Kingdommarker. It was founded by John Hargreaves in 1985. It currently has 200 stores across the UK. The 200th store opened on 22 September 2006 in Croydonmarker. The current Chairman is John Mills and the current Chief Executive at Matalan is Alistair McGeorge.

On 25th October 2009, it was announced that various parties were interested acquiring Matalan, although if a sale of the company does go ahead it will not happen until 2010.

Stores

Matalan stores average out at a size of roughly , emphasising the space strategy that the company employs. The majority of Matalan stores are based in out of town locations, based upon a concept that John Hargreaves discovered was successful in Americamarker, and then decided to launch it in Prestonmarker in 1985. However, recently Matalan has been pioneering the idea of their stores being on the high street in Derrymarker and Glasgowmarker. Each store is typically divided into four departments, Women's, Men's, Kids' and Homeware. In May 2007, Matalan launched a new 'Partyshop' department at its Preston store named 'M Party'. This has now extended to almost ten stores across the country including three in west Scotland. During 2008, M Party was rolled out to a further 55 stores within the company.

In December 2007, the company made the decision to roll out a new store format, following a successful trial and an increase in pre-tax profits. This included new innovations to Matalan such as mannequins and more stylish fixtures and fittings.

Matalan Mobiles

Matalan ventured into the mobile phone industry after seeing its success with its other departments. Launched in September 2008, it currently has a fully functioning e-commerce site, and a dedicated call center in Manchester promoting mobile phone deals.

Its underlying philosophy remains the same, providing value for money where others can't. This is reflected in low cost mobile phone deals, rewards like money off vouchers to spend in store, and cash back deals.

Matalan card

Matalan has a card system that it employs within its stores. The card was originally used so that only certain people could shop at the store, similar to the Makro membership card. However as the years went on they changed the system so that anyone could join and get a Matalan card for £1. The membership card was needed to process items through the tills because there was no way of buying items without a card. Then in around 2003 Matalan removed the £1 charge for the card. The card is now no longer needed to process transactions, however employees are encouraged to make as few sales as possible without the card. The card acts as an incentive to customers by offering them:

  • cardholder discounts and exclusive offers;
  • vouchers by e-mail, including one on the cardholder's birthday;
  • a number of partner offers;
  • mailer updates on new products and offers.


In 2006, Matalan trialed a reward scheme using points on the Matalan card in Scottishmarker stores. At the same time, a keyfob was introduced as an alternative to the card, similar to Tescomarker Clubcard. However Matalan decided not to roll out this scheme to the rest of the stores, and concentrate on offering more to the customer in store.

M Cafe

During 2007, Matalan began to trial an in-store cafe concept to attract more customers into stores. M Cafe's menu was based around healthy options, selling food and drinks with little or no sugar. The cafe itself was based around the shape of a coffee bean, with dark brown and stainless steel fittings creating a contemporary setting.However, the cafes failed to fulfill their intended purpose and were disbanded. The space at the trial stores, Stockportmarker and Southportmarker, have now been turned into hearing aid centres where customers can also get free hearing tests.

Et Vous

In 2007, Matalan launched a limited product range of designer fashions called Et Vous for Ladieswear. The idea of the Et Vous range is to offer customers something that would be unique and not worn by a large number of people, enabled by the limited amounts of stock on each product line. Et Vous consists of coats, blouses, tops, skirts, and underwear. This range was disbanded in December 2007 and was re-launched again in 2008.

Concessions

In addition to their traditional stock management, Matalan operate a number of concessionary product offers in store. These include:

Jewellery - provided for ladies, mens, and kids by firm DCK.

Books - traditionally located within the homeware department near the tills. Stocked by Webb.

Hearing Clinic - a service provided in a small sectioned part of the store by hearing specialist firm Hearsavers. In 2009, Hearsavers went into administration raising uncertainty over the venture.

Shop-in-Shop Strategy

Since Matalan relaunched the brand in 2006, there had been a number of attempts to add more diversity to the traditionally single minded approach to product branding. Much of this was achieved by creating 'shop-in-shop' layouts across the stores. These include:

Et Vous - High quality ladieswear brand.

Soon - Relaunch of an old Matalan ladieswear brand in 2007. Product mainly for older market.

Sports Shop - Establishment of an area in store for ladies, mens, and kids selling high quality branded sportswear. Brands available include Fila, Umbro, PGA Tour and Everlast.

Be Beau - Catwalk inspired fashion brand, launched in 2009.

24/7 - Quality mens' casualwear designed by Jeff Banks.

Lee Cooper - Men's casual fashion, relaunched in 2009 with many new lines for the Autumn/Winter seasons.

Influence - Stylish and affordable designer home accessories from big household names including Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan, Anthea Turner, Antony Worrall Thompson and Gino D'Acampo, launched in 2009.

Expansion

As the UK economic downturn took hold in late 2008, value retailers such as Matalan began to benefit from the more cost-aware spending of the UK consumer base, as well as the demise of rivals such as Woolworths and Ethel Austin. This in addition to a strategy of store refurbishment, stock and marketing revision, and debt repayment led to an increased wealth within the company and a steady increase in sales. Increased revenue allowed Matalan to begin expanding again, and opening new stores for the first time in three years. The long term ambition is to expand Matalan's store portfolio to 300 stores in the UK, beginning in 2009 with stores opening in Elgin (Scotland), Colindale (London), and Cheetham Hill (Manchester).

As well as expansion in the UK, Matalan has announced plans to open stores outside the UK for the first ever time. Over the next year, Matalan will be opening fifteen new stores in the middle east in locations including Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.

Clearance Stores

In order to make sure that new season ranges are given full attention upon launch, Matalan converted a small selection of its stores into clearance outlets. These stores are stocked through stock uplifts from regular branches, where old stock is taken in mass (often the culmination of 2 or more sale periods) and crossdocked to clearance branches. Matalan clearance stores are generally selected from branches that are nearing the end of their lease or are located in an area which is commercially viable for a store of a clearance nature. At current, Matalan has clearance stores in Swindon, Blythswood, Newport, Wood Green (London), Wolverhampton, and Sunderland. There is also one in Portadown, however it is due to close this summer.

Distribution

Matalan stores have goods distributed to them from three distribution centres:

Skelmersdale - based adjacent to the head office buildings, the Skelmersdale DC delivers to stores primarily in the north of the UK. The centre is made up of two buildings, one of which crossdocks goods directly to stores. The SDC is also the base of Matalan's logistical operation.

Corby - the most recently opened depot, supplying stores in the south of the UK. Corby DC is owned by Matalan, but is operationally run by logistical contractor Wincanton.

Knowsley - The smallest of the three centres. Primarily for distributing bulk goods. Knowsley also houses a small office complex.

Because Matalan's logistical operation is run by Wincanton, goods are also relayed through Wincanton's depot in Scotland, to ease pressure on Skelmersdale and allow Scottish stores to receive goods more quickly. In the earlier years of Matalan, a distribution centre was also situated in Leyland, not far from the head office in Preston. However, as the company rapidly expanded in size around the turn of the millenium, Leyland was closed and the distribution centre was moved to Skelmersdale along with the head office.

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