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John Smedley looks overseas for growth

British knitwear brand John Smedley is eyeing major overseas expansion to help grow turnover to £20m in 2012.

Managing director Andrew Caughey said he was targeting wholesale and retail growth in Brazil, Russia and the US, as well as China, where John Smedley will have a “significant presence” by the end of the year.

It is close to signing a Chinese agent to source wholesale partners. John Smedley also plans to open concessions within the agent’s exist-ing network of Chinese stores. Last year, the men’s and women’s brand signed Blues Clothing Company as its Indian distributor and it is seeking a Brazilian distributor.
Caughey said he was forecasting a 10% increase in turnover in 2010, up from £14.7m in 2009 when turnover was flat. Profits are likely to see a single-digit increase this year.

Currently, 60% of John Smedley’s turnover generated by its overseas operations, which include 500 wholesale accounts, 17 concessions and 15 standalone stores. In the UK, the company has 300 wholesale accounts, five concessions and one store, on Brook Street in Mayfair, London.

John Smedley’s London store will be run as a separate division, “to test the potential for further UK stores and concessions,” Caughey said.
The knitwear brand has five concessions in premium mini-chain Flannels and will open two concessions in department store chain Fenwick this year.
John Smedley has made a string of appointments to spearhead the growth. Jeremy Hope, former financial controller at brand house Pentland Brands, will join as financial director next month to replace Michelle Hayes, who left at the beginning of the year.

Earlier this month, Stephanie North joined as key account executive from luxury business Gucci, where she was sales manager of its London Selfridges concession, and last month Frederik Larsen joined as retail manager for John Smedley’s UK standalone store. Larsen was formerly a store manager at beauty and fragrance retailer Jo Malone.

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