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Coast restructures as Bostock eyes double-digit growth

Coast chief executive Kate Bostock is restructuring the business, dropping the price architecture and broadening its product offer as she targets double-digit growth by the end of the year.

Bostock, who joined the occasionwear retailer last summer after a short-lived tenure at Asos, has poached Marks & Spencer head of womenswear design Neil Hendy as one of her key appointments to rebuild the business.

Hendy will join Coast as creative director, with responsibility for design, marketing, PR and visual merchandising. Coast’s design director Kim Elliott will remain at the business as head of design, reporting into Hendy.

Bostock has also appointed Jess Wilks, outgoing deputy managing director at the devolving Aurora business, as global digital and strategy director with immediate effect. Head of ecommerce Bianca Mercer will report into Wilks.

As a result of the reshuffle Coast’s deputy managing director Jo McWilliams will take on the new role of global operations director, broadening her remit from the UK to include all markets.

Pall Olafson will continue as chief financial officer while Andrea Hickman remains as buying director.

Bostock told Drapers more changes were likely to filter through to the rest of the team over time, although she was not expecting to make any redundancies or recruit for new roles.

The restructure comes six months into Bostock’s time at the helm of Coast, as she implements a new strategy to turn the business around.

Other changes include dropping the price architecture by around 20% across the board, introducing a broader product offering that includes smart separates and less formal dresses that could be worn when going “out for dinner with family or friends”.

Both these approaches were trialled in the run up to Christmas, with Bostock saying she had already seen an encouraging change in buyer behaviour, turning double-digit like-for-like declines into single digit growth. She is now eyeing low double-digit growth by year-end.

“I did that pretty much straight after I joined at the cost of our margins, so we could get in before Christmas… it was the right thing to do, it did wash its face in terms of improving our full price sales,” she said, adding that the volume of sales helped recover some of the initial hit taken on margins.

Coast has also upped the number of suppliers it uses by a further 10 - around 40% more than previously – to ensure better pricing and flexibility, she added.

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