Republic co-founder Carl Brewins is to join young fashion chain Bank as commercial director, with sources indicating the move may pre-empt his acquisition of the business.
Brewins, who stepped back from day-to-day involvement in Republic after 26 years in January 2012, will join the JD Sports Fashion-owned Bank in November.
One source said: “He will go in for six months so he can take a look at whether he will buy it. If he were to buy it, it has been speculated that Tim Whitworth [former Republic chief executive] would go in too.”
Bank has been struggling of late, with like-for-like sales down 3.7% in the 26 weeks to August 3, dragging JD’s fashion arm down 2.2%.
In September, JD chief executive Barry Bown said he hoped to see the “first green shoots” of recovery for Bank by spring 14. Ex-Reiss trading director Gwynn Milligan was drafted in as managing director this summer.
Brewins was one of the names linked with buying Republic when it fell into administration in February. It was instead snapped up by Sports Direct.
A JD spokesman said: “We are delighted to have the benefit of [Brewins’] considerable experience in branded and own-brand young fashion within Bank.”
However, he declined to comment on speculation regarding a future takeover.
Last week it was revealed that Tom Edge, co-founder of Leeds-based Ark, had left the retailer just four months after its acquisition by JD.
Drapers has since learnt that Guy Daltry, former buying director at Republic, is assisting the Ark management team.