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Network Rail to roll out 300 ‘click-and-collect’ stores to stations

Travelex founder Lloyd Dorfman has teamed up with Network Rail to invest £24m in a new delivery service called Doddle that will place click-and-collect shops in railway stations and other high-footfall destinations.

Doddle will become the UK’s first fully dedicated, staffed, online shopping collection and returns service, and will see more than 300 new locations open in stations across the country in the next three years, while creating more than 3,000 jobs.

A pilot outlet, where shoppers can pick up items bought online from retailers including Asos, New Look and TM Lewin, is already open in Milton Keynes. But further stores will open in London Waterloo, Bromley South, Brighton, Chelmsford and London Cannon Street before the end of August.

A joint venture between Lloyd Dorfman and the Network Rail group of companies, Doddle will operate as an independent, standalone limited company with both investors holding equal majority shareholdings.

Lloyd Dorfman, who will act as Doddle chairman, said: “I signed the Doddle joint venture contract literally hours after signing the recent Travelex deal. We intend to take the experience of creating a challenger brand to provide a game-changing service for millions of online shoppers.”

Network Rail said that its own research reveals 59% of British consumers, equivalent to 30 million, now use click and collect (up from 45%, equivalent to 23 million, six months ago) but they would be more likely to use the service if there was a more convenient method of making returns.

Tim Robinson, chief executive at Doddle, who was previously route managing director, Sussex at Network Rail and has been responsible for driving the development of the Doddle concept within the business, said: “We created Doddle to improve the online shopping experience. We’re not another “me too” click and collect offer, it’s a game-changing service consumers are crying out for but no one else can provide.

“We offer a premium service with contemporary shops, advanced technology and highly trained staff delivering a dedicated customer experience.

Open seven days a week, early until late, it is hoped the Doddle shops will fit in with people’s “busy lifestyles” and enable them to choose exactly how, when and where they send, return and receive parcels. Many will feature changing rooms and there is an easy-to-use website and notifications service through SMS and email.

Robin Gisby, Network Rail's managing director, network operations said: “More people are travelling by rail than ever before and stations have become more than just a place to wait for, or get off a train. We've adapted to passengers' changing needs and now offer quality retail, food and drink at our biggest stations, such as London Waterloo.

“Introducing Doddle to stations will enable us to reinvest our profits back into the railway and is a natural next step to help passengers and people who work and live near stations, whose lives are increasingly busy and on the move.”

Transport for London, which is responsible for the London Underground network, struck deals earlier this year with Tesco and Waitrose to expand its range of retail services, part of reforms which sparked staff anger.

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