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Exclusive: East co-founder returns to product director role

Penny Oliver has returned to her former role a month after the company was sold.



Oliver, who founded East with Clive Pettigrew and Jonathan Keating in 1994, was product director until 2008, when she took a step back and began working with the company as a part-time consultant. 

She has now been reinstated as full-time product director, with responsibility for the design team.

The appointment comes a month after Indian company Fabindia sold an 80% share in the womenswear retailer to New York-based investor Rahul Kakar of Crore Capital.

Chief executive Suzi Spink left the business as a result. Kakar has taken on the role of executive chairman.

Oliver said: “In spite of many changes over the years, we are very much in the here and now, and we’re determined to recreate and live up to our ‘designed in London, inspired by the East’ motto.”

Fabindia was majority shareholder of East when it went into administration in June last year, later blaming an “inconsistent” approach to design for its heavy losses.

A new company called East Lifestyle, whose majority shareholder was also Fabindia, bought certain parts of the business back in a pre-pack deal worth £3.4m. 

More than 550 employees were transferred across to the new company last year, but 156 were made redundant as a result of the closure of 19 stores and five concessions.


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