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Brand backlash at Next web strategy

Next is facing a supplier backlash after product destined for its new branded etail venture appeared on the main Next site.

Suppliers told Drapers they initially signed up to a new Next-backed venture called the Brand Directory, on the premise that the site would not be associated with the Next brand or chain.

The launch of the site, which was to go head to head with Asos and Littlewoods, was scheduled for last autumn. But a separate site is yet to materialise, and this week the www.branddirectory.co.uk web address began redirecting visitors to the main Next.co.uk site, prompting speculation Next has abandoned the original venture.

This week, 7 For All Mankind and Rock & Republic launched on Next’s website, joining Levi’s, Replay, Firetrap, Sergio Tacchini, Original Penguin and footwear labels Timberland, Hudson and Fly London in its new Brands @ Next section.

The head of sales at one brand told Drapers he was angered by the lack of transparency and insisted he had signed up for a non-Next branded venture. He said: “We will discuss it with Next at our next meeting.”

The brands also face dealing with independent stockists, who are seeing red over the brands’ decision to supply a multiple that has huge marketing capabilities and high web traffic.

The owner of one Yorkshire-based indie said: “Next has a huge database and if it uses that to market the fact it has these brands it could bastardise them. It would also hit indies who rely on the web to boost business.”

The owner of a Midlands-based indie said he was considering dropping one of the denim brands that appeared on Next’s site because he felt it had made the brand “too mainstream”.

Next was unavailable for comment.

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