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Styles moves into building

Retail fit-out specialist Styles & Wood will branch out into building new stores later this year in order to beat the effects of the credit crunch.

The London Stock Exchange-quoted firm is best known for working with a number of blue chip clients including supermarket giants Tesco and Sainsbury’s, as well as high street retailers such as John Lewis and Marks & Spencer.

The firm posted its 14th successive year of growth in 2007, with revenue up 17 per cent to over Ł300 million and pre-tax profits rising by more than half to £12 million.

But the company has said conditions this year will be tougher and is now looking at expanding into new build work for its clients, which number 25.

Managing director Ivan McKeever said the firm had made the decision because clients are setting more demanding efficiency targets.

He said it was looking to boost workloads from existing clients and added: “I think during this period retailers will be trying to get their frameworks in better order. They will be looking to get less supply in the frameworks and they will be looking to better prices - to drive out costs.

“They will be trying to get a much more efficient process and the new build is an opportunity for us in the sector to go forward.

“We have a good reputation for our ability to refurbish, extend, fit-out and design stores. The next natural progression from that is to build them.”

Mr McKeever said the firm was making the move into new build as a proactive step to keep up with the fast-paced retailing sector.

He added: “In every industry you have got to anticipate what is happening in your marketplace. We have seen what is happening and put our business plan and strategy around that dynamic.”

The firm is also looking to follow its clients overseas with plans to open an office in eastern Europe before the year is through.

He said: “Retailers are looking to engage internationally, so we are looking to explore that.”

Styles & Wood expects to generate up to 20 per cent of its revenue from its overseas arm within three years.