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Retailer Spotlight - Troubling Times for Womenswear


Posted At: 16 March 2017 14:17 PM
Related Categories: Retail, Retailers, Womenswear Retailer


Style Group Brands, the parent company of labels such as Jacques Vert, Windsmoor, Eastex and Precis, has launched ambitious plans to get the business back on track. The review, led by new chief executive Shaun Wills, includes the appointment of KPMG to explore a sale or restructuring options for the group. The UK’s largest womenswear concession operator is the latest fashion retailer to be affected by toughening trading conditions and increasing competition on the high street. Just this week, shareholders at French Connection have called for a break-up of the retailer as they record a full-year loss for the fifth consecutive year.

Style Group Brands was formed via the merger of Jacques Vert and Irisa Group‎, and trades in department stores including Debenhams, House of Fraser and John Lewis's online operation. It currently operates from more than 1,850 outlets in 470 separate locations in the UK, Europe and Canada.

The potential sale or restructure could lead to a reduction in‎ the number of outlets, possibly under a new owner. It follows a wave of auctions of women's fashion brands. Last December, Aurora Fashion Group announced it was putting its brands Oasis, Warehouse and Coast up for sale. Elsewhere, Jaeger has appointed advisers to handle an auction and shareholders in LK Bennett are expected to follow suit in the near future.

While the Style Group Brands saw sales increase by 4% on a like-for-like basis for the second half ended 31 January, the group is very much at the starting point of its turnaround strategy.. Shaun Wills commented, “The real test is this spring/summer, which is where all our work around more commercial product will start to be seen,”
Wills, who took over as CEO from Tim Davies in April, suggested that there is some reorganisation going on in stores in terms of store management staff however no other details have been shared.

Clothing retailers are facing intense pressure from the impact of inflation, which is set to lead to substantial price hikes. Other costs linked to business rates, the national living wage and apprenticeship levy also pose a real challenge for the sector.

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