Independent hardware chain secures two new London units – in Camden and Islington – and reveals plans to grow the business further with new acquisitions in coming months.
The Tool Shop Group today confirmed that it was adding two further branches to its network of nine shops in and around central London.
The retail business, owned and run by BIRA president Vin Vara, celebrates 20 years of trading this year and Mr Vara tells DIY Week that there are more acquisitions in the pipeline, with plans to operate 15 stores by Easter.
The first of the two new units is located on Upper Street near Angel Underground station, less than a mile from Tool Shop’s existing Islington branch on the same road.
Discussing the new addition to the Tool Shop estate, Mr Vara told DIY Week he had initially been looking for a bigger unit in the area to provide a more comprehensive offer to local customers but had been unable to find a space that met his requirements. The plan going forward is that the new smaller shop – formerly a travel agent - will complement the current Islington store with an extended offer, including housewares and trade paint. Despite needing a complete refurb, Mr Vara said this branch will be trading by the first week of September.
The second new unit is a book shop on Camden High Street – a location that Mr Vara says he has been after for a number of years. This 1,000sq ft shop is set to open at the end of November to give the current owner time to vacate the premises before a full refit by Tool Shop to bring it in line with the rest of its branches. The shop, which is similar in size to its flagship Waterloo branch, will provide a full hardware offer and locksmith service.
Mr Vara said of the Camden site: “I have been after this unit for a long time. It’s a great location with fantastic footfall. Retailers on the street are trading seven days a week and there are plenty of people along that street every day. The footfall is there.” He added that he sees a gap in the market there, with “no real competitors close by” and believes that locals in the area are, “in need of a quality hardware retailer.”
The addition of the two new stores has created seven new jobs within the company, and Tool Shop has been busy training the new employees ready for when the Islington and Camden branches open.
Mr Vara is also confident that, despite the amount of work needed at both sites and the delay with the Camden branch, there will be a quick turnaround to get them trading on time. “Both stores need a complete re-fit – new ceilings, everything,” he said. “But we’ve done it in the time before and it won’t be a problem here either. Salepoint is helping a hell of a lot with the fittings and getting everything ready, and then all of our regular suppliers, including Stax and Dulux, are helping us get the shops stocked in a short time.”
The locations of any further Tool Shop branches are yet to be confirmed but Mr Vara said these latest openings are an exciting step in the company’s growth plans.
In 2011 Tool Shop Group acquired Trafalgar Lock & Key Ltd in Lambeth, which was re-branded as Locksmiths at the Tool Shop and became the group’s 10th store. In 2014 the company opened its 11th branch, after taking over a vacant unit Upper Road, Islington. It has since pulled out of two of its housewares units.