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Derek Lovelock joins Joe Browns as it readies retail debut

Former Aurora Fashions chairman Derek Lovelock has joined mail order and online retailer Joe Browns as it prepares to open the first in a series of retail stores.

Derek Lovelock is appointed Joe Browns' chairman

Derek Lovelock is appointed Joe Browns’ chairman

Derek Lovelock

He replaces current chairman Peter Higgins, who is stepping down after eight years.

Lovelock, who will retain his current position as chairman of Mamas & Papas and Jack Wills, told Drapers the business is looking for stores in prime shopping centres.

“We are in the privileged position of not having any stores. We have a blank canvas from which to start, so we can choose the locations that best suit what we want to achieve,” he said. “We already have lots of devoted followers, many of whom live in market towns, so we’ll be looking at prime shopping centres for stores to present the brand to many more people.”

He declined to confirm how many stores would open in total or when the first store launch would take place.

Lovelock, a retail veteran who picked up the Drapers Lifetime Achievement award in 2013, boasts a wealth of experience including stints as chairman of Jacques Vert Group, chief executive of Oasis and chief executive of Sears.

He decided to join Joe Browns after he got to know managing director Simon Brown and believes the company has a strong opportunity, thanks to its distinctive handwriting and offer.

“We can expand very carefully into retail on top of the fact the brand has never discounted and has a really strong personality, which is a very compelling proposition,” he said.

Brown added: “We’re thrilled to welcome Derek on board at such an exciting time for the company. This step will make us a true multichannel retailer and give people that haven’t heard of our brand the full Joe Browns experience.”

The decision to move into physical stores follows two years of record sales for the company, spurred on by “increasing demand from customers for distinctive, fun and flattering designs in both men’s and women’s wear”, said a spokeswoman.

In the last available results filed at Companies House, Joe Browns increased turnover by 27% to £26m for the year to 30 June 2015 compared with the previous year, while EBITDA grew 122% to £4m. The firm, which is based in Leeds and sells womenswear, menswear and accessories through mail order and online, as well as wholesale, made a profit of £3m, up from £1.3m in 2014.

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