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London indie Iris acquires rival Question Air

London-based womenswear independent Iris has acquired the leases of all five stores operated by its rival, Question Air.

The Iris team will take control of the Question Air stores – which are in Wimbledon Village, Barnes, Dulwich, Hampstead and on Northcote Road in Clapham Junction – on a staggered basis between August and October. The stores will be rebranded as Iris.

Iris has four existing stores, in Queen’s Park, Chiswick, Amersham and on Northcote Road. The Question Air store on Northcote Road will continue to trade in the short term. All of Question Air’s shop staff will be invited to continue to work for the business. 

In September Iris will relocate its headquarters from Chiswick to the Question Air offices in Fulham. Owners of Question Air, Sye Razvi and Judith Ross, will become silent shareholders in the company.

The sale came about after Ross, who runs the business on a day-to-day basis, decided to retire.

“It’s been very well received, I think the shop staff are excited to be part of a new venture,” said Nick Thorne, buyer for Question Air.

For autumn 17, Iris will take on all the Question Air stock, which include men’s and women’s wear. New womenswear stock will be sold by Iris for all of the stores for spring 18.

Iris currently stocks brands including MiH, Ulla Johnson, Frame, Masscob, Jumper 1234 and BA&SH, as well as lines by Isabel Marant and Vanessa Bruno, and its own label “By Iris”. Isabel Marant is already confirmed as a brand that will be carried by every store in the combined portfolio.

Iris was co-founded in 2004 by Sarah Classen and Annie Pollet, who are managing director and creative director respectively. Former Cath Kidston and LK Bennett managing director Jo Staveley invested in the retailer in 2013 and is chairwoman. 

Classen and Pollet said: “We have wanted to grow our brand for quite some time and are absolutely delighted that, despite the economic climate, we have secured a deal that will more than double the number of Iris stores and give us a new opportunity to grow our own ‘By Iris’ label.

“From the outset, it has been our desire to become ‘the’ local fashion destination, giving women access to the brands that they are used to finding in central London. We believe that by blending the best of what Iris and Question Air do, we will be offering new and existing customers an unrivalled mix of affordable, must-have fashion conveniently located within their neighbourhood.”

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