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American Eagle readies for UK ecommerce launch

American Eagle Outfitters will launch its first localised ecommerce website in the UK within the next month, as it confirms regional retail expansion plans.

The US young fashion retailer made its debut in the UK with three stores at Westfield London, Westfield Stratford and Bluewater shopping centre in Kent at the end of last year and most recently opened a pop-up store in London’s Old Street underground station on July 7, which runs for three months.

“We are really pleased with the launch and how our product has resonated with UK customers,” chief commercial officer Simon Nankervis told Drapers.

“The pop-up is all about getting our name out there as when we launched we knew our awareness on the UK high street wasn’t that high, so this is all about educating the trendsetter and we have had an amazing response.”

The UK ecommerce website, set to launch by mid September, will utilise a distribution site in the Netherlands and enable the retailer to “compete with the local market”, as up until now ecommerce fulfilment was done out of the US, making shipping costs relatively high.

Ecommerce currently accounts for around 16% of US sales, which is growing, but Nankervis said the expectation for the UK is higher as the retailer seeks to find the optimum blend of online and offline sales.

He also confirmed the retailer is entering the next phase in its retail development in the country, with around 10 locations currently under review.

“We want to let our digital experience guide our retail expansion to show where the demand lies as well as where we think would be good locations based on customer profile and demographics,” he said. “We would look to open three or four stores next year, depending on availability of the right stores.”

American Eagle currently trades in 14 countries and will be operating out of 22 countries by the end of the year, including new launches in Singapore, Korea, Chile and Greece.

It reported a 12% boost in sales to $797m (£509) for the 12 weeks to August 1, while operating profit soared 342% year-on-year to $53m (£34m) for the quarter. There was no breakdown for UK sales for the period.

@Tara_Hounslea

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