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Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group sets out retail ambitions with Austin Reed relaunch

Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group will open 200 new stores over the next 18 months for its fascias, which include Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Peacocks, Jane Norman and Austin Reed.

The group bought the Austin Reed brand out of administration in May of this year and will invest around £100m into relaunching it in its first three years.

Austin Reed relaunched online in September and the group is now preparing to open its first new stores towards the end of next year, targeting a total of around 50 stores over three years. The firm said it is close to completing a deal on a new flagship store in central London.

The group also acquired the Country Casuals and Viyella brands, and will relaunch them in existing Edinburgh Woollen Mill stores early next year.

Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group opened 43 new stores in the UK and Ireland for the year to 28 February, when sales rose 2.4% to £576.3m and profit before tax and exceptional items also increased by 2.4% to £90.9m.

Group commercial director Steve Simpson said the firm’s focus is on providing quality, exceptional value for money and positive customer service has helped it to grow despite increased competition.

“We have been able to do this because each of our brands is absolutely focused on its customers – be they cost-conscious mums looking for family fashion or discerning shoppers looking for a timeless sense of style,” he said.

“With the addition of Austin Reed, which we acquired earlier this year, as well as Country Casuals and Viyella, we aim to continue this organic growth, while always being ready to respond to other opportunities as they arise.”

The group now operates 981 standalone stores across the UK, as well as numerous concessions and ecommerce sites.

Simpson added that the firm has a strong balance sheet and remains debt free so will continue to look for new acquisitions.

“We are always ready to take advantage of any further opportunities through acquisitions, as and when they may arise,” he said.

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