General merchandise chain Woolworths plans to open the first standalone store under the Ladybird children's wear brand in the UK this year as well as opening 92 Ladybird shop-in-shops in larger stores.

The standalone stores, which the company will open in conjunction with an unnamed franchise partner, will sell about 600 product lines in the fashion, hosiery, accessories, footwear, schoolwear and nightwear categories.

Woolworths - also known as Woolies - eyes more stand-alone stores in 2007, and, if these prove to be successful, it foresees more than 50 locations in the next five years. It is basing the stores on current formats in Ireland and international sites.

The new store-in-stores follow successful trials in Southport and London's Edgware Road, which saw Ladybird sales rise by 22% against control stores. Ladybird clothes are currently stocked alongside Disney, Umbro, Warner Bros and other Woolworths brands sold by the retailer.   

Ladybord's head of international trading Simon Brown said: "We are delighted that Ladybird standalone stores are becoming a reality in the UK.

"We have seen how well the Ladybird store concept has performed across our global territories and now we are looking forward to applying our learnings to the UK market."

The company is also planning to open new stores in South Africa in 2007, PR executive Marysia McSperrin told just-style, adding that it was in talks with partners in Poland, Germany, USA and Canada.

Woolworths' marketing director Stephen Robertson said: "I am delighted with the continued excellent performance of Ladybird internationally.

"The brand has such a rich heritage with people that we firmly believe that UK standalone stores and Ladybird shops within Woolworths stores will cement the future success of the 68-year-old brand in this country."

Ladybird clothes are currently sold in 821 Woolworths stores in the UK and in more than 120 stand-alone stores and concessions abroad, including the Middle East, Ireland, India, Australia, Hong Kong and China.