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Fresh Channel revamp is new dawn for womenswear retailer Aurora

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Group to split Oasis and Warehouse from Coast and invest £5m a year back into the business.

Oasis and Warehouse are eyeing rapid international and omnichannel growth as part of Aurora Fashions’ restructure that will split the two retailers out from occasionwear specialist Coast.

This week it emerged that the Aurora name is to be dropped as Coast devolves from the wider business, now called Fresh Channel, over the next 12 to 18 months. Simultaneously, the most senior layer of management - comprising chairman Derek Lovelock, chief executive Mike Shearwood and chief financial officer Richard Glanville - will step back from the business.

Group omnichannel director Ish Patel and Julia Durbin, people and organisational development director, are also stepping down.

Several roles in shared services will be “realigned” within the separate businesses, but redundancies are expected to be minimal.

As a result of these changes, and the introduction of a back-office stock control system, delivered by Retail Assist, “substantially in excess of £5m a year” will be saved and ploughed back into the respective businesses, with funding split according to need.

Fresh Channel will be headed up by former Oasis boss Liz Evans. She told Drapers: “We’ll have a real focus on omnichannel over the next few years, to make sure we optimise our investment in that area. We also want to grow internationally, predominantly through franchise partnerships.

“We are getting quite a big capital investment and my number one priority this year is to optimise that.”

Below the headline areas of growth, Oasis and Warehouse will get funding according to their own needs - examples include the recent signing of a PR firm to bolster Warehouse’s profile, and Oasis’s focus on improving window displays.

Evans acknowledged the UK remained challenging but said her ambition was to outperform the market.

The restructure, which has been designed to create a flatter structure, will enable each fascia to be more reactive and agile, she explained.

“In the past Aurora would have decided what was best for Warehouse - now Warehouse can decide that.”

It also opens up the possibility of both Karen Millen and Coast being sold.

Shearwood, who has been linked with Karen Millen in the past, was unavailable to comment further, but was described by Lovelock and Glanville as being “in a very strong position” to buy the retailer.

Gemma Metheringham and Steve Price continue as joint managing directors of Karen Millen, although chief financial officer Sanam Soufipour moves over to take the same position at Fresh Channel. Margaret McDonald remains managing director of Coast.

Of the restructure as a whole, Lovelock said: “This will enable decisions to be based around the customer. We have to be flatter because we have to make quicker decisions.”

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Completely confused.

    How will this improve the formats.........

    Give Karen Millen back to Karen
    Warehouse back to Jeff Banks

    Make Oasis a soft drink......

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