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Exclusive: Chester Barrie owner reviews brand strategy

Menswear supplier Prominent Europe is reviewing its branded business as part of a change in strategy by Japanese owner Itochu Corporation, Drapers understands.

Prominent Europe owns menswear brand Chester Barrie and currently operates the licensing businesses for tailoring brands Simon Carter and Richard James.

Its licence with Simon Carter expires at the end of December and will not be renewed.

Simon Carter, founder of the eponymous brand, said: ”While I can’t comment on the reasons for not renewing the licence, Prominent has been a terrific partner for the last five years, and we are excited for all of the opportunities for the brand that lie ahead.”

The future of Chester Barrie and Richard James, which still has 18 to 24 months left of its licensing agreement, is not clear. However, it is understood that the whole branded business is being reviewed.

The supplier’s private-label business is not part of the review.

A spokesman for Prominent Europe said: “We are not in a position to comment. As you would expect for any business, we are always reviewing our operations and the opportunities there are and that is particularly the case in what is a challenging market.”

Richard James declined to comment. 

Prominent Europe was founded in 1993 and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Itochu Corporation.

In its is most recent full-year results, to 31 March 2018, revenue grew by 7% to £136m and gross profit dipped 0.5% to £8.2m. 

The business said it faced “challenging market conditions” and its “margins continued to be impacted in the year by US dollar/sterling exchange rate changes in following the Brexit decision”.

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