JD Sports Fashion is launching a value fashion business later this year and has recruited a new team to spearhead the move.
Sources told Drapers that the group, which owns fashion chains Scotts and Bank, plans to open 15 new stores this year, with each store taking “a new retail identity”. Sources suggested JD was reviving its Open fashion fascia, which was axed in September 2007. However, Open was not previously a value fashion proposition.
A company spokesman said: “JD has built an experienced team to launch a new own-brand fashion concept during the second half of 2014 and it is likely to trade as Open.
“The concept will be all about good value fashion basics for every day. It will not in any way resemble the previous Open concept operated by the group in Liverpool and Glasgow 10 years ago.”
Both were run as department stores selling upmarket designer branded sports fashion. However, Open was scrapped when JD consolidated its fashion division.
The launch team is headed by former Blue Inc buying and design director Stephen Galea as managing director. He left the young fashion chain in September after eight years but had previously spent 12 years at Arcadia, becoming head of buying for menswear at Topman in 2003.
Stewart Messer, formerly head of buying at Blue Inc, has been brought in as head of buying for Open while Oliver Woodhouse, previously head of buying and merchandising at Bench, has joined as head of merchandising.
This will be the second retail launch for JD in the last 12 months, following its sports performance fascia JD Pro, which opened in November.
However, the own-brand concept marks a new direction for the group as it is currently attempting to breathe fresh life into its young fashion chain Bank by introducing several new labels. Drapers reported last week (January 18) that the retailer is hoping to attract 40 new brands, which will be introduced online and in stores over the next 18 months.
Honor Westnedge, senior retail analyst at Verdict Research, said JD’s entrance into the value market could be a tough one.
“For JD to launch a new fascia in that section of the market, its proposition is going to have to be really strong. The product and value for money is going to have to be better than their rivals to lure people away from New Look, H&M and Primark.”
However she highlighted JD’s experience, infrastructure and economies of scale as strong foundations for the new venture.
Like-for-like sales in JD’s core fascia stores - including JD, Size? and Champion - for the 48 weeks to January 4 were slightly ahead of half-year trading, when sales rose 5.8%.
The group expects full-year profits to be in line with City forecasts of about £69m after an increase in like-for-like sales during the crucial Christmas trading period.