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Joe Browns ramps up wholesale ambitions

Retailer Joe Browns is gearing up for major expansion after branching into wholesale.

The Leeds-based men’s and women’s lifestyle business, which was started 12 years ago as a mail order operation by owner Simon Brown, aims to add 20% to overall sales by the end of 2015.

It has recruited Emma Thaxter, former head of sales at Emu Australia, to lead the wholesale push and is targeting a number of markets including the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands and Germany.

Thaxter said Joe Browns planned to appoint four agents to help establish up to 200 UK accounts over the next 12 to 18 months. She said it would also exhibit at Bread & Butter Berlin, as well as Fashion Exposed in Sydney, Australia, to help it expand internationally.

Joe Browns has until now limited itself to online, which makes up about 90% of turnover, and mail order.

Thaxter said it had established 55 accounts since launching into wholesale. These include Devon independents Image Lifestyle in Tavistock and Firefly in Totnes.

Agents will be appointed for Scotland, the Midlands and the North, the Southwest and Wales, and London and the Southeast. Another will be hired for Ireland.

Although Joe Browns will wholesale men’s and womenswear, Thaxter said it will focus on the mature women’s market. Thaxter said growth in the next 18 months would be from wholesale.

The collection comprises up to 120 styles each season, with wholesale prices starting at £10 for a T-shirt vest, with a 2.8 mark-up.

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