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Exclusive: Karen Millen and Coast chief's 'modernisation' programme

Beth Butterwick, chief executive of Karen Millen and Coast, has unveiled her plans to re-invent the two brands.  

Karen Millen bought Coast in a pre-pack administration deal last October. It acquired Coast’s UK concession portfolio, online business and franchise stores, saving 600 jobs. 

Butterwick said she will focus on aligning the two labels, but each will “drive a different deal” by catering to their respective demographics: “Karen Millen and Coast have always been premium womenswear brands catering for largely the same age demographic. Developed and refined in the right way, they can sit well alongside each other.

“To ensure we protect each brand identity and their collection offers, we will keep separate product teams.”

However, all other functions have been merged so the Karen Millen Fashion House (KMFH) can run more efficiently.

The team has spent the last few months conducting research on what shoppers want from Karen Millen and Coast. 

Butterwick said: “Based on customer feedback across both brands, we have sharpened our offer at entry price points and extended our range offer at exit.”

Entry prices for both brands will be tops under £70, and exit price points will be upwards of £250 for coats and dresses. 

Coast’s reinvention, which will be brought into stores this June, will include focusing on a slightly younger shopper and broadening its product categories to include more everyday pieces that can be dressed up or down. 

Butterwick explained: “The Coast brand now focuses on every occasion, whether that is going to the pub on a Friday night, or to a wedding or a back-tie event, pieces you can go back to several times a year. It is more about customer attitudes than demographic, but the sweet spot will be between the ages of 30 and 40.” 

Before this, the age range was between 40 and 50 years.

Karen Millen, meanwhile, will add relaxed fits to its offer. Butterwick added: ”The Karen Millen collection will always be a polished offer, but what we have relaxed is the fit and shape of our dresses and tailoring.”

Butterwick said: “Bringing Karen Millen and Coast [under Karen Millen Fashions] allows us to leverage the best parts of each brand through our talent and drive better efficiencies. Our forward vision is focused on developing a relevant and more compelling product offers for our global customers. We will continue to respect that each brand is uniquely different. With customer first in mind, our new licensing partnerships through 2019 will bring exciting category launches. We are confident about what Karen Millen and Coast can be in the premium women’s space.”



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