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Tulchan boss takes majority stake and looks to boost sales

Tulchan’s managing director has bought a majority stake in the mainstream womenswear brand and will focus on growing the label’s representation in stores – which could include raising minimum orders – as well as opening more standalone stores.

Michele Needham has bought a 75% stake in Tulchan from Waterlinks Investments, owned by Sue Watson – who also owns Lyle & Scott – with Waterlinks retaining the remaining 25% stake. Needham would not reveal the transaction details.

Needham joined Tulchan as office manager in 1984, when the brand was launched, and worked her way up, being appointed managing director in 2007.

The brand is now looking to bolster sales by encouraging independents and department stores to take a wider selection of its collection, by highlighting Tulchan’s emphasis on the layering look. This, Needham said, could lead to minimum orders being raised to encourage stockists to take more items.

She said minimum orders could gradually be increased from the current £1,500 for spring 15 to around £3,000 by autumn 16.

“We are doing it gradually and making collections easier to put together so you need a certain number of pieces to get the look,” she said. “We are also doing training with stockists on how to co-ordinate pieces. We want to work with stockists to do more with us and to get the concept of working up a look and layering the collection.”

Tulchan, which uses natural fibres as well as higher-end silk blends and merino wool, has 400 stockists across the UK and Ireland, and Needham expects this number to stay constant as some stockists drop off but are replaced by other retailers. It also trades from approximately 45 concessions, which could drop to about 35.

The brand will look to increase its standalone store presence, Needham said. It trades from two stores: a full-price shop in Ilkley, West Yorkshire, and an outlet in Cowan Bridge, Lancashire.

A 650 sq ft full-price store will open in Helmsley, North Yorkshire, in February next year and Needham plans to open another in 2015 followed by a fifth in 2016.

Tulchan will also target Germany for autumn 15 and is looking for agents to help line up stockists there. It is already sold across Scandinavia and the Netherlands.

Tulchan’s turnover dropped by 1% to £3.2m in its full year to March 31, 2014. Wholesale prices range from £8 for a vest to £32.75 for a printed hooded mac.

Waterlinks did not respond to requests for comment.

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