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Reinvigorated Crombie embarks on expansion

Menswear retailer Crombie is to embark on an aggressive expansion and brand awareness campaign after it unveiled a reinvigorated offer under its new management.

Joint managing directors Colin Porter and June Lawlor, who were drafted in to Crombie from House of Fraser in September to turnaround the business, told Drapers that the retailer, best known for its iconic Crombie coat, had begun an evolution into a lifestyle operator.

Crombie has broadened its price points and introduced a range of accessories. Coats retail for £700 on average, going up to £2,000.

Porter told Drapers that Crombie was aiming to become a luxury lifestyle brand with a positioning similar to Burberry, sitting above fellow British heritage brand Aquascutum and Italian label Ermenegildo Zegna.

Crombie, which has five concessions in House of Fraser and two standalone stores, in Manchester and Edinburgh, is scouting for further concession space in department stores including Selfridges, Harrods, Harvey Nichols and John Lewis.

It wants to open two or three standalones a year in key cities for the next couple of years and has targeted Leeds, Glasgow, Bath, Cambridge and the City of London. Porter said the brand could have up to 10 standalones in total.

Crombie, which is owned by chairman Alan Lewis, has also acquired 48 Conduit Street in central London for a flagship store on the ground floor and the four floors above for its new headquarters. It will open in September.

In the same month, Crombie will launch a fully transactional website, which will expose it to overseas markets. Porter added that he would consider overseas concessions, franchises or licensing deals with a focus on the Far East, China, Middle East, Russia and the US.

The business, which was founded in 1805 and has traditionally been known for formalwear targeting customers aged 40 to 60, has been broadened to appeal to a younger customer aged from 25 and upwards, with the introduction of more lifestyle pieces and smart casualwear and accessories.

Lawlor added that womenswear, eyewear, fragrances and boyswear could follow in the future.

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