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New recruits to bolster Oki-ni margins

Premium menswear etailer Oki-ni has made two key appointments as part of plans to improve margins and attract investors.

Following the departure of creative director John Skelton in April, Oki-ni has split the role and appointed Bernie Thomas as brand development director and Tim Sturmheit as buyer.

Thomas has joined from Hong Kong department store Lane Crawford, where he was men’s buying controller for three years. Before that he spent 13 years as menswear buyer with London designer indie Browns.

Oki-ni director Ben Banks said Thomas would bring experience of sourcing luxury brands that were creative but that he had a proven track record in buying. “He will address the brand mix and make sure the depth at which we buy into each brand better matches its sell-throughs,” he said.

Sturmheit joined the etailer this week from premium lifestyle brand Paul Smith, where he was a store manager.

Oki-ni is in talks with two European venture capitalists to sell a 20% to 40% stake in the business. It will complete a deal by the end of 2010.

Turnover at Oki-ni, which stocks brands including Acne and Jil Sander, was £3.2m in 2009 and is on track to grow 40% year on year in the first half of 2010, while margins are also “slightly ahead”. Banks said turnover would sustain the same level of growth in the second half and that the new appointments would help drive significant margin growth.

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