Extreme Shops Ltd. is expanding from their online presence, extremepie.com into the world of brick and mortar with a chain of 30 shops planned for roll out across the UK. Based on an action sports concept with fashion influences, the Ex Stores will offer a dynamic and interactive shopping experience. Designed by Iain Norman, visual design manager for Ex Stores, with professional guidance from Mark McCullough of Forma Design, the stores will offer a fresh and exciting environment for shoppers drawn to this exciting and dynamic retail segment.

Sites have been chosen based on their accessibility by youth, the feel of the location, and, crucially, the type of shopping each centre offers. Appealing to a broad customer base of 10-30 year olds, with the core around 16-25 year olds. Having bought out Legends, a chain operating in the core action sports market earlier in September '04 these stores are now ready for re-branding to the Ex Facia. Sites include Cardiff, Bristol, Southampton, Reading, Oxford, Cheltenham, Kingston and Watford. Initial new openings will be in Brighton, North Street; and Margaret Street, Canterbury on 1st October. These are the first of 7 stores scheduled to open during 2005/6 complimenting the existing 12 stores remaining from the Legends acquisition.

Commenting on the move, Steve Hazell, MD, Extreme Shops said: “We’ll be featuring a range of the coolest apparel and hardware connected to our core sports. It’s all about getting the product mix right for each store, giving the flexibility to adapt to meet local or regional needs and building a strong local position in its action sports segment.”

“Some stores will feature surfboards, or wakeboards whilst others will stock wind-based products such as kites and all terrain boards. All stores will have skateboards and the necessary hardware, but we’ll keep it varied to meet local demand. Fashion driven from the lifestyles attached to these sports and the music scene that surrounds the whole sector will also play a part in achieving the optimum balance,” continued Hazell.

Extreme has plans to build the chain up to 30-40 stores nationwide, covering some of the main shopping areas where a strong, relevant youth group exists. Growth will be focussed in the South and middle of the country allowing a single delivery and warehouse/HQ base to be maintained.

Back on the online side of things, Extremepie.com is re-launching on Friday 14th October with a brand new transactional website and integrated back office system.

Increased competition in this niche retail sector both on and offline, as well as extremepie’s serious plans for growth in the next 18 months, has led the company to invest heavily in new technology. Working together with Screen Pages on its new website and MNP on its new back office systems, Extremepie is confident that this enhanced technology platform will provide the right tools for its ambitious expansion plans.

“Ensuring that the foundations of the business could support our exciting plans was a vital step in the process” commented Steve Hazell, MD of Extremepie and Ex Stores “In this very competitive retail niche, we have serious plans for expansion and are looking to achieve a minimum of 15% growth in key product sectors during 2006, as well as increased turnover through the introduction of new product segments in Spring/Summer 2006 including a much enhanced girls range as well as kids clothing”

“We want to continue to be the first choice website for anyone living or aspiring to the action sports lifestyle and we want to ensure that our customers have an enjoyable and enhanced shopping experience.” New features of the website include: increased use of online merchandising and sales tools to boost conversion ratios, making the site more usable; enhanced search and navigation options; better images of products; near real-time stock information; and customer’s own “wish lists” that can be emailed to family and friends. Screen Pages specialises in online retail and e-commerce services and brings significant expertise from its work with other apparel brands such as Fat Face, White Stuff, Joules Clothing and Isabella Oliver.

Behind the scenes is equally as important and MNP’s “Order Active” is an efficient and streamlined system, cutting out manual processes and speeding up the order fulfilment process. Features include – integrated retail system covering all channels, website, mailorder, telephone; stock management; automated purchase management; despatch arrangements (eg overseas VAT registrations), accounting and CRM.

Using the same proven solution recently trialled by Lakeland Ltd, the hope is to create a really smooth operation providing a streamlined process from order to fulfilment with customer profiling data collected along the way. Hazell explains: “If we want to run a promotion targeting all 20-25yr old females who’ve bought footwear in the last six months, then this system will enable us to do just that, without complicating the process or including people who don’t match our search profiles. We’ll be in a much better position to respond to individual customer’s needs and adapt as those needs change”