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New owners commit to Adams store expansion

Adams’ new owners have vowed to return it to its former position as a leading high street kidswear retailer with an aggressive store expansion plan and more directional product offer.

Pakistani group Habib Alvi, which operates in the textiles and financial services industries, bought Adams from former chairman and owner John Shannon in September. Shannon, who had twice previously rescued Adams from administration, is no longer involved in the business.

Adams’ design team has remained unchanged since the takeover and the retailer’s spring 10 collection will have a more directional look with an expanded denim collection, particularly in boyswear, and more detail and embellishment in girlswear.

Price points have been expanded at the top end with the introduction of two more premium ranges: Boutique for girls and A-Brand for boys. Product director Lindsey Williams said: “Prices will go up to £30 for jackets and very top-end dresses to reflect the stronger emphasis on styling and detail.”

Adams, which has 125 stores and 18 concessions in the UK and Republic of Ireland, has reopened five of its former stores in the past six weeks and will reopen five more before the end of November in Dartford, Bolton, Andover, Coventry and Kettering. Four concessions will also open in Menarys department stores in the Republic of Ireland.

Retail director Paul Walkden told Drapers he was confident that Habib Alvi would agree to a proposal to open a further 15 stores before Easter. He said: “The owners seem very ambitious and I expect the rate of expansion to escalate in 2010.”

Trade at Adams has been stronger than predicted since the takeover, according to Walkden, but he added that year-on-year comparisons were difficult because the stores were discounting heavily last year because of difficult trading. He added: “We are far less reliant on discounting since the investment by Habib Alvi.”

Adams’ contract with US kidswear chain Gymboree, in which two Adams stores were fitted out to carry Gymboree’s Crazy 8 product from autumn 09, is due for review at the end of this month. It is unclear whether it will be extended.

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