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Tributes to Republic’s Bray

The young fashion industry has paid tribute to Robin Bray, co-founder of Republic, who died last week aged 57.

Bray, a founding director of Leeds-based jeanery Best Trading Co, which later evolved into branded chain Republic, passed away following a long-term illness.

He founded the business with Carl Brewins and Howard Brealey in 1986. Initially, Bray continued working as an agent, selling denim brands such as Watsons, while Brewins ran the business. As the store took off, he joined the business full time and was heavily involved in the buying operation with Brewins.

Bray was also integral to the creation of the Republic concept, which the trio trialled in Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield, before pushing the button on a roll-out and securing significant success as a multiple.

Bray left Republic in 2002 after a management buyout. The business had sales of about £60 million at that time.

Brewins said: “My endearing memory of Robin was that he could talk to everyone, from the guys in the warehouse, who adored him, to the guys running Diesel at the time, or the bank manager. He was a great guy with a real zest for life.”

Kevin Burns, director of RWB Brands, said: “Robin was one of the true characters of this industry – a man who really did know the jeans business, and was passionate about it. He was from the old school, of working hard and playing hard. He was a man that I am very proud to have known so well.”

Alan Strang, who retained Bray as an agent for Watsons and later sold product to him at Republic, said: “Robin was a fantastic guy and an industry gentleman who was larger than life. Everyone in the business is extremely sad.”

The funeral is on Monday July 7 at 11am at St Mary’s Church, Boston Spa, near Leeds. Family flowers only. To donate to a charity chosen by Bray’s widow, email to receive details.

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