Recent branch openings in Kilmarnock and Newton Abbott continue the on-going expansion of Graham Plumbers’ Merchant, which has seen investment in 34 new branches in the last three years.

The company says that, with a steadfast commitment to growth and estate improvement, the programme is part of its promise to customers that they can always get the product they need, from people in the know – and is testament to its strengthening market position.

With an average of one new branch or relocation per month, each new location is a purpose-built development. Graham is focusing on optimising layout and good quality lighting, to provide a more compelling environment for customers.

Crucial to the strategy is co-locating with a sister brand, with all of the new branches now alongside Jewson or CTD branches. This results in an increased product range on site and a broader customer base for all brands. It also allows for increased opening hours and bank holiday trading, as staff and resources can be shared between brands.

The programme has also enabled IT integration. Graham says it is working towards all branches offering click-and-collect and is focusing on improving the purchasing experience in branch, with the use of tablets and an email receipt system.

Ian Kenny, Marketing Director of Graham, said: “We are expanding tactically, within areas where we see the biggest potential and to increase our geographic base in areas where we have had limited coverage to date, such as Cornwall and Devon.

“As larger warehouse-like retailers are being hit hard in the current market, Graham has opted to develop smaller outlets. With an infrastructure that enables ‘just in time’ stock replenishment, there is no longer a need to keep excessive stock onsite. As such, these smaller branches can be developed quickly, with many sites in action within 12 weeks.

“Twenty percent of our branches are currently in the process of updates with plans in place to continue the expansion at the same rate over the next three years. It’s an exciting time for Graham, as we continue to buck the trend and go from strength to strength."

The latest developments in the programme are well under way: Bury St Edmonds branch is in the process of relocating and should open later this month, while a brand new branch is set to open in Staines next month.