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Freemans to launch plus-size collection after return to profit

Home-shopping retailer Freemans Grattan Holdings [FGH] is to launch a plus-size offer early next year and said it had returned to profit following a major restructure.

The name and target demographic of the plus-size venture have yet to be decided but FGH chief executive Koert Tulleners said it would work in conjunction with parent company Otto Group’s German operation, which already has a plus-size offer called Sheego.

According to research firm Mintel, sales of plus-size womenswear have rocketed 45% over the past five years and it predicts the market will reach £3.8bn this year.

Other home-shopping groups, including Shop Direct Group, have increased their plus-size offers to compete with market leader N Brown. High street chain Evans is also poised to launch an online branded offer for plus-size teenagers, as revealed by Drapers (August 14).

Tulleners would not reveal profit figures as Otto Group is publicly listed in Germany, but said the UK arm was now profitable despite flat sales. He added that it would be able to invest in new brands following an overhaul of the business next year.

FGH cut about two thirds of its UK staff over the past two years to make it more streamlined. In May it was given a £10m cash injection from Otto Group. “We are in a better position after many years of losses,” Tulleners said.

FGH will also switch its focus away from its traditional catalogues and agency customers to developing its online business.

Tulleners said nearly 50% of its business was online compared with about 30% two years ago.

He said: “Our newer propositions are doing well online. [Value brand] Bon Prix gets 55% of sales from online.”

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