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Mulberry plans lower-priced bags range to fuel market share growth

Mulberry is gearing up to launch two lower-priced bag collections for spring 08, as the brand's share of the accessories market continues to grow. The two ranges will be manufactured in China, a first for Mulberry, which makes as much as 60% of its collection in the UK.

The Somerset range comprises eight styles in yellow, putty and olive, and will retail from £150 to £395 for a large tote. The Sam collection, which will be available in white, coral, black and tan, comes in small, medium and large and will retail from £195 to £295. This compares with an average price of £595 for one of the brand's handbags.

Chief operating officer Lisa Montague told Drapers that Mulberry's market share had been increasing steadily as the label continued to expand its retail business. The brand's slice of the UK women's accessories market has risen to 12%, up from 10% last year, while its men's accessories share currently stands at 6% from a standing start.

"We've capitalised on the men's accessories market especially, and the menswear share has come from nowhere," Montague said.

As part of its core range, Mulberry will add two "families" to its spring 08 collection, including Poppy and Agyness, the latter named after model Agyness Deyn.

Inspired by the biker look with side-zipped side detailing, the Poppy collection will retail from £295 for a purse to £595 for a satchel, while Agyness, which is a softer, lightweight style, will retail from £595 to £795. Denim will also be added to Mulberry's accessories collection for the first time, including the giant Piccadilly style, which is also new to the family.

The brand is on the hunt for a replacement for design director Stuart Vevers, who will join accessories brand Loewe as creative director in January.

Mulberry will open a further 20 stores internationally next year, to add to its existing portfolio of seven standalone shops and 18 concessions in the UK, as well as shops in Europe, the Far East, Middle East and the US.

Mulberry also plans to convert its Westbourne Grove store in London's Notting Hill into a Julie Verhoeven pop-up store for three weeks from September 15. The store will sell the artist and designer's products, designed exclusively for Mulberry, including T-shirts at £49, bags from £150 and a one-off dress for £995.

The opening will coincide with London Fashion Week, during which Mulberry will give presentations at its showroom on New Bond Street from September 19-20.

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