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Influx of funds and staff fuels White Stuff ambition

Lifestyle retailer and brand White Stuff has secured a new working capital facility and made a raft of high-level appointments to prepare it for UK and international growth.

Chief executive Sally Bailey said the working capital facility, made with Lloyds TSB, would provide a stronger structure for the company’s growth strategy but declined to put a value on it.

White Stuff, which sells menswear, womenswear and accessories via 64 stores and 110 wholesale accounts, plans to use the cash to open 10 stores a year, increase average store sizes from 1,400 sq ft to 2,000 sq ft, and significantly grow its internet and home-shopping businesses.

“Next year we are on track to pass the £100m turnover mark and within five years that could be £500m, so we needed to make sure we were set up for that,” said Bailey. “We will use the funding over the next several years.”

The financial arrangement follows the creation of three director-level roles - chief operating officer, home shopping director and commercial director - as well as a replacement for retail director David Abramson, who left White Stuff for health and beauty retailer Neal’s Yard Remedies in February.

Helen Marshall will join White Stuff as retail director in June. Marshall was previously retail trading and international director at womenswear chain Warehouse. Her experience in overseas markets will aid White Stuff’s international expansion, which is likely to involve the opening of overseas offices from 2011.

Andrew Webb joined as chief operating officer in March. Webb, who was chief executive of womenswear retailer East until 2009, will review White Stuff’s infrastructure to ensure it can cope with rapid expansion.

Alison Lancaster has joined as home shopping director from Harrods Direct, where she was marketing director. Lancaster will focus on growing online and catalogue from 10% to 15% of the business in two years. White Stuff will relaunch its website early next year with a more sophisticated IT platform.

The role of commercial director has been filled by Aviva Bard, who was previously merchandise director at White Stuff and will now cover both roles. She will take over the responsibility for day-to-day trading from Bailey.

Bailey will make 36 further head office appointments across all departments in the next financial year, which begins for White Stuff on May 1. The company, which has approximately 165 head office and 1,100 store staff, will expand its office space by 10,000 sq ft in October.

Earlier this month, White Stuff launched a retail-only diffusion line called So Glad And Very, which has a 30% higher price point than the mainline.

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