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Roman continues rapid growth

Womenswear chain Roman is on track to exceed its sales target by 10% as it continues its rapid expansion strategy, opening two stores a month.

The retailer, which hit the headlines for #TheDress debate in February this year, saw sales increase by 38% to £48.8m for the year to December 31, while gross profit increased by 55% to £25.6m.

The Birmingham-based company made net profit of £3.7m, up by 54% on the previous year.

It employed 918 people during the year, against 626 in 2013, according to results filed at Companies House.

Since last June Roman had been opening almost a new store every week, particularly in the North and around London. It now has about 180 units, with recent openings as far apart as Londonderry, Stevenage and Middlesbrough.

“Our retail expansion programme has slowed slightly, but we are still opening around two a month now,” said creative manager Ian Johnson.

The company was at the centre of a social media debate in late February after a picture of a dress was posted online that some people see as white and gold, but actually is black and blue.

“The Dress debate made us much more of a globally-recognised brand and we’re still seeing increased traffic online from both the UK and overseas as a result,” said Johnson. Online orders account for around 15%-20% of the business.

“We are way above where we expected to be – around 10% up on our top expectations. We sold a lot on the back of it but it also increased our presence and we’re starting to see the benefits of that now.

“We’ve just finished our autumn 15 lookbook – a 32-page catalogue that is handed out in stores – and a lot of people are saying it is our best yet, so things are looking really good at the moment.”

Roman Originals was established in 1970 by Peter and Erich Christodoulou as a manufacturer, previously supplying retailers such as Arcadia Group with womenswear ranges. It opened its first store in 1995 and now has about 100 staff at its Birmingham head office, with in-house design and sampling capabilities. It began the transition to become known as Roman a couple of years ago. Typical retail prices for its dresses are between £30 and £40.

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