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Colourful separates and a bullish strategy have put a spring in the step of the womenswear brand

The phrases “financially very sound” and “family company” are not particularly exciting. But with tremors continuing to course through the economic landscape and retailers seeking the safe haven of stability, Melanie Whitby, Gelco’s brand manager at its UK agent APT Collections, uses these words with pride.

Certainly, the womenswear brand’s roots are deep. It hails from the Geppert & Co factory in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, which was founded in 1948. In 1955, founder Georg Geppert brought in
Friedrich Dreier as a partner. Dreier’s son, Dr Joachim Dreier, took over the management of the company in 1967 and later held the majority of the shares.

Geppert became Gelco in 1970 and just last year the Dreier family bought the remaining shares, making it a fully family-owned company.

And the brand is bucking the downturn, Whitby says, thanks in part to its mostly mature and affluent customer base. “Gelco’s turnover has grown steadily, with the co-ordinates business having more than doubled in the past five years. We believe we can come out of the current global situation as one of the winners.” She adds: “Our market does not seem to be hit as much by
the recession.”

Whitby says the brand is set to deepen its UK footprint by extending its retail presence. It is in talks with retailers about opening concessions. She says: “This model has been tested successfully in Germany with more than 100 concessions so far. We are now expanding it to other countries, including the UK.”

The brand also has eight standalone shops in Germany. “These are in a testing period and once this is completed we will offer this as a franchise model to our retail partners,” says Whitby.

Back in the UK and Republic of Ireland, the brand has 300 stockists. Whitby says 80% of that number are indies and she adds that while the hunt for retail partners is on, growing within the current stockist base is also crucial.

To that end, spring 10 will see Gelco playing to its strengths. Whitby says the season’s collection will be about “uncomplicated, relaxed, feminine co-ordinated separates with a lot of attention to detail.” This season, says Whitby, jersey is a key fabrication on dress and jacket styles. “The dress is a key piece”, she says, “and blouses and tunics remain important.” Co-ordination is essential. Whitby says: “The collection offers a wide variety of easy-to-match outfit ideas in order to emphasise the flexibility within our collection.”

A colourful palette of pastels such as lilac and yellow and strong brights make for a fresh, spring-like theme, handily in keeping with Whitby’s optimism.


300 Number of stockists in the UK and RoI
1948 The year the company was founded
450 Number of pieces in the collection

  • Gelco 020 7636 7202

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