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Douglas overhauls USC womenswear strategy

USC strategic buying and merchandise director David Douglas is to scale up the young multi-brand fashion chain’s womenswear offer with a raft of fast fashion brands and own-label product from October.

Douglas told Drapers he was reversing USC’s strategy to shrink womenswear and instead would work towards returning the category to 50% of the retailer’s offer.

He will introduce a new trend-led fast fashion own brand called Abandon on October 1, which will feature 60 to 80 SKUs, including styles like leggings and going-out wear.

Pixie Geldof will front the range, which will target 20- to 25-year-old women and make up 15% of the total womenswear offer for autumn 09.

USC will also introduce Miss Soviet, a value commodity product line to complement its Soviet menswear range. It will target 16- to 20- year-olds and make up about 20% of the mix this season. Styles will include basic denim, sweats and shirts. Prices will be £15 to £25.

Douglas, who co-founded USC, has reintroduced fast fashion brands such as Ichi and Love Milly this season to support the more reactive strategy. He said the fast fashion offer was already contributing about 40% of womenswear sales despite having only half the proportion of stock.

USC also plans to run special outfit promotions along the lines of two-for-one deals on its own-brand range. However Douglas said that forward order and denim brands would still make up a significant proportion of the total mix.

“Our volume with the brands won’t diminish. We want to continue to offer a wider type and variety of product but the fast fashion element will also help to drive people to our website,” he said.Douglas added that USC was up on plan since he returned to the business in March.

“We are up 5% on our financial plan. Our like-for-likes are now well into double figures and we are starting to see the business changing,” he said.

Douglas is also looking to develop a new store concept to increase appeal to female shoppers.

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