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Sir Tom Hunter assures suppliers: ‘USC is back’

Sir Tom Hunter has promised USC suppliers that the branded fashion chain is back on track, and has stumped up £4 million to reinvigorate the retailer’s store portfolio.
Speaking at the launch of USC’s menswear-only store in Nottingham last week, Hunter told branded suppliers: “We’ve been away for a little while. We said we’d be bold because we were going nowhere. Now we are back and, more importantly, there is money in the till.”
The Nottingham store, which opened last month, is outperforming the rest of the chain by 20%. Hunter said: “The team has been given £4m to do this to the rest of the stores and what we are saying now is hurry up.”

He added that supplier support had not gone unnoticed after a turbulent two years of losses at the retailer. For the year to January 2006 the business lost £8.7m and is expected to post similar losses for last year when it files its accounts at Companies House next month.
Hunter stressed that future success needed to be a joint effort with suppliers. He said: “Without brands and without you guys we don’t exist. Thanks for being with us through the ups and downs.”

Following a 40% rise in like-for-like menswear sales earlier this year, USC decided to slash its women’s offer and reconfigure its stores to a 75% menswear mix. The new Nottingham shopfit showcases the menswear-only blueprint, which will be rolled out to USC’s top five stores and one new opening this year in Leeds. Further openings in Liverpool and Newcastle are in the pipeline.

Hunter added that USC’s new website would be unveiled on November 5. He said: “We have made some exciting web developments. We want to see if suppliers are up for this.”

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