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Ex-Republic brand boss joins JD Sports Fashion

Sportswear giant JD Sports Fashion has recruited former Republic brand manager Nick Preston to the newly created role of group trading director.

Preston, whose departure from branded young fashion business Republic in June shocked the industry, will work across all four JD Sports Fashion fascias - the JD retail chain, young fashion chains Bank and Scotts and footwear chain Size?. He will report to both chairman Peter Cowgill and chief executive Barry Bown. The position is not on the board.

Preston’s exact remit remains unclear. He told Drapers: “It’s a successful business but I’ll be looking at how we make it a world-class business. I’ll be looking at store performance, brand performance, supplier relationships, ecommerce and trading.”

Preston, whose role at Republic will be filled by Next’s longstanding brand buyer Scott Macrae in the new year, led a strategy to introduce key young fashion brands such as G-Star, Henleys and Diesel to Republic during his five-year tenure. He joined Republic from department store chain House of Fraser, where he worked in a menswear buying role. He also worked at Harvey Nichols. He has impeccable relationships with key brands in the young fashion sector.

Preston’s appointment follows a high profile exit from JD Sports Fashion when Bank founder and buying director Andy Scott left the chain in October. Chanda Pandya, formerly head of buying at women’s young fashion chain Jane Norman, was drafted in as director of buying for Bank to replace Scott last month.

JD Sports Fashion said last month it had maintained sales and profit margins since September, when it posted a 64% hike in pre-tax profit to £16.6m in the 26 weeks to July 31. Sales surged £18.5m to £383.9m against the same period the year before. Like-for-like sales for the year to November 13 were up 2.8%

The retailer also said it remained “inevitably cautious” about maintaining such positive like-for-like sales during the Christmas period against a backdrop of successive uplifts in previous years.

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