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JD rumours bring more brand headaches

Speculation that The John David Group is eyeing young branded fashion chain Bank reached fever pitch this week.

Suppliers to Bank, JD, and JD’s Scotts chain were nervous at the prospect of an enlarged branded retail powerhouse which is likely to reignite the debate about brand distribution.

What with Sir Tom Hunter ploughing cash into a USC recovery, House of Fraser tightening the screws on suppliers and Republic continuing with expansion plans against a backdrop of collapsing sales, the young branded fashion sector is not a good place to be at the moment.

Certainly a merger between 48-store Bank and the combined 400-store JD/Scotts chains is not to be sniffed at, and although historically many brands have shied away from supplying JD, some may find themselves having to review an existing partner rather than risk losing the whopping potential sales that JD could bring.

Meanwhile, there’s a new suiting multiple coming to the UK. The arrival of Dutch chain Suit Supply has been met with disbelief by most. What with softening trade at Moss Bros and the rumoured disastrous performance of SRG-owned Suits You earlier in the year, only a brave man would attempt the UK market as a growth strategy.

Suit Supply is positioned slightly above rivals Moss Bros and Suits You, selling ready-to-wear to bespoke tailoring from £200 through to £600-plus. It has plans to open up to 50 UK stores - with 20 slated to open within the next three years. This upper-middle market territory is interesting given the evidence that shoppers are trading up and spending that bit extra to guarantee a quality purchase. However, the George at Asda £35 tuxedo and Marks & Spencer’s £49 entry price suit will continue to win over those who are driven by price.

The first Suit Supply opens in London next week in the former Ozwald Boateng store on Vigo Street, just off Savile Row. Drapers will be heading down to check out just how confident the Dutch can afford to be - see next weeks’ magazine for more.

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