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Womenswear ‘back on track’ at Matalan

Matalan’s womenswear division is expected to have outperformed menswear and kidswear for the first time in years this season, after the department was overhauled by its buying director.

Mitchell Hughes, who was promoted to the role 18 months ago, told Drapers he had bolstered the in-house design and buying team, shaken up its sourcing systems and improved the in-store experience.

He said he was starting to see things “get back on track”, with autumn 13 womenswear performing the best it had for two to three years.

Although womenswear makes up half of Matalan’s overall takings, menswear and kidswear have seen higher growth rates in that time, but Hughes said he was confident the momentum behind womenswear would continue into next spring.

“This is the first season under my remit and we have really aimed to get womenswear back on track.

We’ve brought in specialist teams in areas like footwear, and are using our supply base for design as well as promoting internally.

“We have reduced the number of options in womenswear by around 20%, to put the buy into statement lines.” Statement pieces include pencil skirts, Nordic and Scottishstyle knitwear and denim shirts.

Pricing has also been lowered over the last 18 months, with clearer definition given to its good, better, best distinctions.

Matalan is also sourcing more from Near East countries such as Turkey, to improve flexibility.

“We have about 30% of our spring 14 budget left, so we can adapt to trends more quickly than we have in the past,” said Hughes.

“Womenswear is the toughest market in the UK, but this year we have bought it better and are offering more choice, and setting it out more clearly in store.”

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