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John Heath, Managing director, Cruise

In a year which has seen so many indies, not to mention high street names, fall foul of the credit crunch, it is tantamount to the drive, vision and business nous of John Heath, managing director of designer mini chain Cruise, that the business he acquired just two years ago has continued to expand this year.

Following the acquisition of Midlands-based five-store indie Limeys last year, Heath oversaw a rebranding of the shops to Cruise fascias in 2008 and opened a new concept store in Belfast’s Victoria Square development, taking his impressive store total to 19.

It had always been Heath’s intention to roll out the Cruise concept across the UK, and the Limeys deal has played a big part in growing Cruise’s presence. But a focus on quality over quantity is important for Heath, and a product revamp for autumn 08, which included bringing in designer brands such as Marc by Marc Jacobs, D&G, Vivienne Westwood and PRPS, showed there is a keen fashion eye beneath the business veneer.

Cruise’s original Edinburgh store was a whisker away from winning the Designer Store of the Year at 2008’s Drapers Awards. However, the business’s connection to Icelandic-backed investment group Arev has aroused concern since the banking crisis in Iceland, although sources insist Cruise is safe.

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