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Liberty forges tie-ups for global brand push

London department store Liberty is gearing up for new collaborations and a relaunch of its website to build awareness of the brand in international markets.

Liberty has tie-ups with premium cycling brand Rapha and maternity and babywear chain Mamas & Papas for autumn 15.

Managing director Ed Burstell said there are further two big partnerships in the pipeline for February and next summer: “We have a deal with Havaianas which will start in summer and continue through to the Rio 2016 Olympics, which makes perfect sense [as it’s a Brazilian brand],” he said. He would not disclose the other partner.

He revealed Liberty, which turned 140 in September, is in early talks with Disney and Coca-Cola for future tie-ups.

“Our collaboration business has really exploded – now it is being treated as a real business because the appetite globally is that big,” Burstell told Drapers. “It’s more about who we say no to.”

The branded partnerships drive is being led by Scott Tepper, who joined the business as head of collaborations in December last year from Kurt Geiger, and was promoted to fashion buying and merchandising director in August.

A new international website is set to go live in February and is expected to underpin Liberty’s flotation, which is planned for 2018.

London-based private equity firm BlueGem bought the retailer for £32m in 2010 and aims to increase sales to £155m in 2015 from £132m for the year to December 31 2014.

Profits rose to £21.5m last year from £18m in 2013.

Burstell said the company has begun wholesaling accessories such as scarves, bags and small leather goods again after a six-year break. Among the stockists are Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom in the US, Isetan in Japan and one store in Korea for autumn 15.

“We’re starting out with a handful of great doors and again, it will be organic so we’ll grow from there,” he said.

Liberty is also in talks with Westminster City Council about plans to use its roof for a merchandise or food-related project, which could be in place as early as 2017.

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