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Sahara vows to double stores and target younger shoppers

Contemporary womenswear brand and retailer Sahara is to double its retail presence over the next five years and revamp its offer to target younger consumers.

Sahara, which has 10 stores mostly in market towns, will double that number with an average of two openings per year following a 20% jump in like-for-like retail sales during the spring 10 season.

Sahara has appointed a head of retail to spearhead the growth. The company declined to give details of the appointment but said the person would join next month.

It will open its 11th store in Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk next month and is close to signing its 12th.

“We want sites in creative, independent places with character,” said managing director Tiffany Coppersmith-Heaven.

However, she said Sahara would not open stores where it already had a strong wholesale presence, such as Bath and Salisbury, to avoid stealing business from its 125 stockists.

Sahara’s standalone stores stock 70% Sahara product, with the remaining 30% made up of brands such as Oska and Lauren Vidal.

The business is also planning a brand relaunch for autumn 11. “There had been a stigma that Sahara was for the larger, older woman and it had been bypassed by some buyers in the past because they had the wrong idea,” said Coppersmith-Heaven.

“We are pitching the brand at the 35-plus customer and have already added more texture, more asymmetric cuts and more exclusive prints.”

Sahara has also increased its recommended mark-up from 2.6 to 2.75 for spring 11 and expanded the number of pieces at its entry-level price point. Wholesale prices are £26.50 to £84.50, about 2% lower than for spring 10.

Coppersmith-Heaven said: “We’re keeping the retail prices broadly the same. We definitely won’t increase our price structure with a rebrand because we need to offer value.”

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