Scotts repositions as premium chain and Officers Club enters administration.
Men’s young fashion chain Scotts will lead a shake-up of the menswear market, as it switches to a more premium positioning targeting an older, more affluent customer.
The JD Sports Fashion-owned retailer will refresh its brand mix and overhaul its stores to return to its roots as a premium menswear business. Scotts managing director Alan Hodgkiss said: “The whole thing is an evolution back to the older consumer and a slightly more premium one. In tough times, we believe people want to buy the best or the cheapest and the middle is a tougher crowd.”
The 36-store business, which stocks brands including Lacoste, Fred Perry and Adidas, is thought to be in talks to add brands including denim brands G-Star and Diesel and premium lifestyle brand Paul Smith. Over the past year, Scotts has introduced more premium brands like Pretty Green, Emporio Armani EA7 and Paul & Shark, which Hodgkiss said had been a commercial success. It is unclear whether any of its established brands will be dropped.
Hodgkiss declined to comment on specific target brands.
Scotts will also refurbish eight of its stores for autumn 11, mixing a heritage feel with modern styling. The first revamped store will open in June with the remainder overhauled by the end of 2012.
The move will give some much-needed breathing space to beleaguered mid-market high street menswear chains, which have undergone further consolidation this week.
On Tuesday, Officers Club was forced into administration due to the rising cost of raw materials, with young fashion chain Blue Inc snapping up half of its stores, increasing its own stable by 46 stores to 145. Branded menswear retailer Barön Jon is also scaling back from 30 shops to between 10 and 15. It will focus on London, closing its northern stores. A drop in the number of people hiring suits also led to the demise of supplier Etiquette Formal Hire’s owner DLN Group earlier this year.
This week, menswear retailer Moss Bros narrowed its pre-tax losses from £3.9m to £2.7m in the year to January 29. Group like-for-likes sales grew 9.1% over the period. It said it had benefited from the demise of some of its competitors.
Figures seen by Drapers show the value of the menswear market increased by 3% to £4.7bn for the six months to February 20. In the same period average selling prices rose by 5.2%. However, a drop in volume sales appears to drop in the past 52 weeks. Formalwear sales have also improved to -4.2% for the six months versus -7% over 52 weeks.
Simon Berwin, managing director of menswear supplier Berwin & Berwin, said middle-market players such as Moss Bros, John Lewis and House of Fraser were seeing significant like-for-like improvements as they offered a specialist service. He added: “I think people have tried to buy budget suits and realised it is a short-term gain - so they are spending a little more.”
One menswear director added that the trend in suits sales differed from the overall market with volumes growing and average selling prices falling. He said: “There is a resurgence of formalwear trend-wise. The looks in Topman and River Island are about slim-fit suits selling around the £120 or £130 mark. But it looks like a drop in average selling price has driven the suit market. The likes of Burton are selling a lot more suits but at lower prices while Next has a lot of suit options at [the lower price of] £150.”