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‘Cloud’ lifts over reborn Cruise

Cruise managing director John Heath has told Drapers the “cloud” hanging over the premium mini chain has been lifted after he pre-packed the retailer three months ago.

Cruise collapsed into administration in May and the business was immediately acquired by newly formed company Cruise Fashion.

Since buying back the retailer and closing eight underperforming stores, Heath said the streamlined business was forging ahead. “The new season is three weeks old and we are trading really well,” he said.

“Everyone is relieved that the cloud over the business has lifted. Getting out of the Sale has been a turning point because people now believe we are here to stay.”

Heath also plans to relaunch Cruise’s transactional website next month.

Cruise, which sells brands including Burberry, Armani Jeans and Chloé, shut down its website in the run-up to its administration as it was struggling to keep the site stocked.

The retailer, which was backed by Icelandic investment fund Kcaj, hit financial difficulties at the end of last year after over-expanding. As a result of the Icelandic banking crisis, Kcaj was unable to inject the funding for expansion, putting the retailer under significant strain.

The retailer is also reconfiguring part of its store portfolio by closing down one of its three stores in Edinburgh, the city in which it was founded in 1984. Heath will close the retailer’s Edinburgh womenswear store and convert its men’s-only tailoring store into a standalone womenswear store in George Street. The existing women’s and men’s casualwear store is being converted into a men’s-only tailoring store in George Street, leaving Cruise with two Edinburgh stores. The new-look stores will open next month.

“It is crazy to have three stores that don’t do a very good job and better to have two really strong locations in a key position,” said Heath.

He said there were no plans to open further stores in the short term, and added: “At this stage I’m happy to consolidate.”

Heath teamed up with Kcaj, the investment firm set up by Jón Scheving Thorsteinsson, formerly of investment firm Baugur, to buy Cruise for a reported £7m in 2006.

Cruise store count

Aberdeen 247 Union Street

Belfast 1 Victoria Square

Derby (men’s)
30 Sadler Gate

Edinburgh (women’s)
94 George Street

Edinburgh (men’s)
80 George Street

Glasgow 180 Ingram Street

Glasgow Jeans
223 Ingram Street

Leicester Highcross, The Shires

Newcastle 1-6 Princess Square

Newcastle Jeans
15-17 Princess Square

Livingston McArthurGlen

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