Womenswear chain Ghost is squaring up to Whistles and Reiss with an aggressive 12-store roll-out target this year.
Ghost was acquired last year by retail entrepreneur Kevin Stanford, who hired managing director Sandy Goldsbrough, a former brand director at Karen Millen and merchandise director at Whistles.
All but two of Ghost's stores were closed after the acquisition, both of which are in London. A Cambridge shop is to open in mid-February, and a new storefit by designer Brinkworth will debut in Islington, north London, by the end of March. A store in Farnham in Surrey will follow in mid-April.
Goldsbrough said: "We aim to open 12 stores this year and have identified most of the locations. The ideal sites are villagey places where yummy mummies shop. We're targeting a late-thirties woman who dresses in a contemporary manner, but with luxury touches." Chichester in West Sussex, Kingston in Surrey and York are among the towns on Goldsbrough's wish list.
Ghost will also expand its portfolio of 18 concessions, of which 12 are in House of Fraser stores. A Selfridges concession, Ghost's fourth, will open at Manchester Exchange Square for spring 07, as well as concessions in Fenwick in Canterbury and Bentalls in Kingston.
The offer has evolved from Ghost's signature viscose crepe dresses and now includes silk print tops, cashmere-blend knits and leather pieces. The new owner axed the wholesale arm after spring 07 and brought prices down 30% to bridge level.