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Freemans adds fast fashion to its offer

Home shopping retailer Freemans is pushing towards a more trend-led offer with its first fast-fashion range, as parent Otto UK moves into profit for the first time in at least five years.

Otto UK, which also owns Grattan and is a subsidiary of international mail order giant Otto Group, made pre-tax profits of £4.9 million in the past two months alone, Drapers can reveal, compared with a loss of £9.5m for the year to March 31.

The figures indicate a turnaround for the UK business, following moves to restructure and modernise after chief executive Mike Hancox joined the company 18 months ago.

The launch of the Fashionista range for spring 07 is intended to cement the retailer's turnaround, appealing to a wider, younger market. It will be updated every four weeks, showcased through regular mail-outs and web updates. As well as a dedicated area online, there will be a monthly Fashionista mini-catalogue featuring latest trends.

"Freemans is now getting a third of its business from online," said brand director Nigel Green. "Fashionista reflects the fact that some high street shops change their ranges every four to six weeks. That is what most young people want and we need to reflect what's new."

To support its foray into fast fashion, the company has appointed both a new head of buying and a new design boss in the past five months.

- Home shopping retailer La Redoute has also unveiled a fast-fashion range. The On-Trend collection offers online customers four new looks every fortnight.

La Redoute UK general manager Olivier Gimpel said the move was intended to put the business more in line with the fast-fashion aspects of today's shopping.

For more on home shopping, see page 11.

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