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Mone to open UItimo standalones

Lingerie entrepreneur Michelle Mone is in talks with Debenhams to open standalone Ultimo stores within the next two years.
Mone, who opened the last of 10 Ultimo concessions in Debenhams this week, said she wants a partner to launch high street stores for the lingerie brand.

She said: "We know how to design bras, but I'm not a retailer, so I'm looking for a partner to open the shops. I've discussed it with Debenhams and depending on how well the concessions strategy goes, there's an opportunity there."

A spokesman for Debenhams declined to comment on specifics, but said: "We are talking about how we can maximise the Ultimo brand, but as yet nothing is confirmed."

Mone told Drapers that sales of Ultimo at Debenhams had risen 200% after the launch of the first five concessions.

She also unveiled plans to launch an Ultimo sub-brand for younger consumers, which would rival high street chain La Senza. Mone plans to unveil the range for spring 09, with bras retailing at £16.

She is searching for a celebrity to front the new brand's marketing campaign. Pop star Sarah Harding is the face of the Ultimo brand. Ultimo makes up 60% of sales at parent company MJM International, which also owns the Michelle for George and Adore Moi brands.

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