Costcutter has pledged to increase its number of stores by 12% and grow turnover by £52m in the next two years, managing director Nick Ivel told retailers and suppliers at Costcutter's conference in Marbella, Spain, last week.

There are now 1,542 Costcutter-branded stores in the UK, plus a further 111 in Southern Ireland. The group is well ahead of its two-year 

target with turnover at £505m following growth of 10% in the four months to date. The positive growth has come from increased TV advertising, New Era trading terms and regional supply agreements.

Costcutter plans to expand its portfolio of company-owned stores. There are 106 stores, 80 of which are licensed by independent operators. "Licensed stores help retailers who want a second store, as well as the second generation of retailers. We want to encourage that and will invest in more licensed stores," said Ivel.
Costcutter is poised to launch the Costcutter charge card, in partnership with prepaid card company Affinity. Shoppers can load the card up with cash via PayPoint or at a Post Office and spend both in-store and online. "Consumers pay to put money on and pay to spend it," said Ivel. 

"The benefits to members are income generation and brand loyalty. It's simple to use and brings footfall into stores."

The symbol group has also introduced a new leasing facility through Henry Howard Finance to help members develop their stores, giving 100% of the cost upfront. 

Executive chairman Colin Graves added that retailers should look at brownfield sites for development as c-stores. "There's plenty of good locations that are ripe for development as c-stores," he said. "Brownfield sites such as former banks and furniture stores are all there to be developed. It's the money that's putting people off, but we have negotiated rates with HSBC that are better than the other banks out there to help with financing."

Commenting on the Bibby Line Group's acquisition of 51% of Costcutter two weeks ago, Graves said: "Bibby Line's strategy is to make a long-term investment and leave the management to us. The Costcutter brand will be around for a very, very long time. Its subsidiary company, Bibby Distribution, is a perfect fit for us - your future is secure."