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Austin Reed has expansion plans for rescued Viyella

Austin Reed is looking to expand Viyella with new store openings, after rescuing the classic womenswear retailer from administration last week.

Austin Reed chief executive Nick Hollingworth said he saw huge potential for Viyella and planned to open more stores for the business, but declined to reveal locations.

Hollingworth said Austin Reed’s sister womenswear chain, CC (formerly known as Country Casuals) was geared more towards occasionwear, and Viyella would give the group a classic and casual offer. But he conceded there would be overlap between the two businesses.

Viyella will have its own dedicated buying, merchandising and design teams, but the three businesses will share back-office functions.
Hollingworth said: “We had been looking for a third brand to get synergy savings across the group.”

He added: “CC has 230 UK outlets, of which 90 are standalone stores. CC has a much bigger market coverage, but I have big plans for Viyella. I want a profitable Viyella business with up to 50 outlets first, but there are lots of towns I am looking to put stores in later.”

Tailoring retailer Austin Reed bought the Viyella brand and 21 standalone Viyella stores and 16 concessions from administrator Poppleton & Appleby last week. The administrator had already closed about half of Viyella’s 100 outlets after it went into administration last month.

Viyella was founded in 1784, but is understood to have been loss-making for several years.

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