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Wholesale ‘gaining traction’ internationally for Avoca

The wholesale arm of Irish retailer Avoca is gaining “significant traction” in Japan and the US, says head of sales Ivan Pratt.

Avoca credit Steven Tan

Avoca credit Steven Tan

A decision last year to increase the amount of fabric it makes in its mill in County Wicklow rather than buying from third-party factories has boosted sales overseas, Pratt told Drapers.

“The mill is a huge asset as we are able to weave our own unique designs instead of buying them in. Retailers like Anthropologie and Bloomingdale’s in the US really go for it, as it offers them a point of difference.”

Avoca Designs has not gained a significant number of new international accounts, he said. Instead its accounts, such as lifestyle retailer Anthropologie, are buying deeper into the range.

Markets like Japan, where it sells into department store Isetan, and South Korea are also enjoying organic growth.

“We are really pushing ahead [there],” he said. “We want to continue to grow within and develop our relationships with progressive, interesting retailers.”

Avoca Designs has 1,000 wholesale accounts globally. Pratt said the UK and Ireland, where it has 243 accounts, remain key markets: “Trade shows like Pure London are still really important, as in the UK you need to get in front of the customer. We have to be there.”

The Pratt family used to own both Avoca Designs and the retail arm of Avoca, but sold the latter to US catering group Aramark in November for €60m (£42m).

A quarter of Avoca Designs’ wholesale orders come through the retail arm’s 11 stores. Avoca has signed a lease for another store in Ireland, the location of which has yet to be disclosed, and is planning on opening another five or six, as well as venturing into the UK and US for the first time.

The retail and wholesale Avoca business combined had a turnover of €55m (£39m) in 2014.

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