Cardinal have been appointed as Professional Quantity Surveyors and Project Managers for the emerging High Street name Pep & Co.
As reported in the London Evening Standard the former Asda chief executive, Andy Bond, is heading the biggest High Street fashion launch in more than a decade with his new venture, Pep & Co.
Inspired by the rapid rise of discounters Aldi, Lidl, Poundland and B&M, Bond is keen to take a slice of the low price market he knows best. At least 50 shops are planned to open their doors nationwide during a six-week burst from mid-July. The investment will be the first with South African billionaire Christo Wiese, whose retail empire counts the largest food, homeware and fashion retailers in Africa within it, after the pair initially eyed Bhs
But why does he think there’s room for a new retail entrant when the death of the High Street at the hands of online competitors and, supermarkets is a tale relentlessly told? “I think the High Street has changed rather than died. Vacancy rates are stabilising and reducing in places. People are shopping around a lot more and the High Street offers door to door choice. It is always important to follow the customer. They’re going to Poundland for the store cupboard goods, Iceland for frozen food, but where are they going for discount fashion?”
Bond spends three days a week in the capital, holed up in a modest office on Wigmore Street in the West End, but don’t expect to see Pep & Co wrestling for your attention amongst the brands on Oxford Street. Bond and his team have trawled the market towns of the UK finding smaller shopping hubs in which to inject life. A raft of stores is planned for London’s periphery and its head office in Watford will ultimately house 35 staff. A top team, led by the experienced Adrian Mountford, who is credited with building Sainsbury’s own brand Tu clothing label, has been assembled to run the retail debutant.
In the world of discount clothing, Primark and the supermarkets dominate the market, but Bond insists there are lower profile locations in which his venture can thrive. “The customer type and the location type are different, we’re looking at value conscious mums who are shopping primarily for their kids but also themselves,” Bond explained
Bond spent 16 years at Asda, learning the ropes under Archie Norman and Allan Leighton as it back-pocket-tapped its way to become the UK’s number two grocer. In handling the aftermath of founder George Davies’ exit from his eponymous clothing brand, Bond helped Asda lead the way enticing parents to put kids clothes in with the baked beans in the trolley.
Just one supermarket chief has remained in situ since he ended his five-year tenure at the top of Asda in 2010 amid the subsequent Premier League-style hirings and firings – his successor, Andy Clarke. “I still have a love affair with Asda and Andy has done a very good job,” Bond says, adding that he buys online and has his Asda or Sainsbury’s shopping delivered to his home in Harrogate.
The affable retailer has suffered mixed fortunes since departing the limelight. His venture with Dan Yealland was tragically cut short by the star investment banker’s death in 2012, while his foray into fashion, as chairman of Republic, ended shortly before its administration in what Bond describes as a “chastening” experience hit by the economic environment.
Taking on the big guns and attempting to revive the High Street might look a major mission but it’s one that Andy Bond has gladly accepted.