Northwest-based independent Hurley will turn 60 next month, celebrating its transformation into a growing multichannel branded business from its origins in sportswear in 1955.
The business was founded by Ron Hurley and is today run his children, brother and sister team Mark Hurley and Kim Taylor. It stocks branded womenswear, menswear, kidswear, footwear and accessories from stores in Bolton and Wigan.
The company was originally focused on sports and golf leisure, known for its iconic stores in Manchester’s Piccadilly in the 1980s.
“We stocked brands like Fila, Lacoste, Ellesse and Sergio Tacchini, which had a massive boom in the 80s playing to the casual terrace fashion look,” said Hurley, who joined the business at 16.
“We started to move more into fashion when my father passed away, when I was 19.”
Hurley had a total of 11 stores at its peak in the early 2000s, with Henri Lloyd and Lacoste franchises, as well as stores trading branded fashion under the Hurleys name. However, the company fell into administration in 2009 after it was hit by the sudden withdrawal of credit insurance.
Hurley and Taylor bought the business back as Merepress Limited and today trades from three stores at Bolton’s Middlebrook retail park, with a total of 4,500 sq ft of space, and one 2,500 sq ft store in Wigan’s Grand Arcade.
“We were at such a low point when everything happened in 2009 so it feels so good that we can still be here to see in 60 years,” said Hurley.
“It is such a relief and we’re so grateful to the people who stuck with us through the hard times. Now we’re investing in refurbishments, updating the business and going more premium to make the business the best it can be.”
Key brands include Armani, Hugo Boss, Ted Baker, Barbour, Vivienne Westwood accessories and Uggs, and the company has introduced Clarks Originals, Nudie and Edwin for autumn 15.
He said sales for the year to date are up by 20% on the same period in 2014, driven by a 40% increase in online sales. Online accounts for around 30% of the business.
Hurley has just launched a new app and added a wish list to its website, while a live web chat function will be installed at the end of the month.
“We’ll be updating the signage before Christmas to reflect a unified brand image and installing a new Epos system in the new year,” said Hurley.
Hurley celebrated with an in-store loyalty customer event at its Bolton store on October 15 with free giveaways and prizes, and will be holding more celebrations through the month of November.
Hurley was a finalist in this year’s Drapers Independents Awards in the Best Independent Multichannel Operator and Best Lifestyle Independent categories.