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The contemporary womenswear brand is rejuvenating its range to enhance its appeal in the UK and RoI.

With its average UK consumer a good 10 years older than in the rest of its European territories, German mainstream womenswear brand Olsen plans to update its image under new UK managing director Louise Sutton.

Olsen, whose 450 UK and Republic of Ireland stockists include department stores Hoopers and Fenwicks and mainstream indies, is targeting contemporary indies with its updated autumn 10 range.

The range includes more modern trouser shapes such as treggings and jodhpurs as well as softer, less formal tailored pieces in boiled wool and jersey.

Jenni Devereux, co-owner of Annette Collins in Norwich, which stocks Olsen, says: “Olsen’s product has gone younger and as long as it doesn’t go too young too fast like some of the other German brands have, it will be a good thing.”

Ensuring the product is right for the UK market was also high on Sutton’s agenda when she joined from Freeport outlet centres, taking the reins from previous managing director Charlotte McHardy, who left in September to run contemporary womenswear brand Sandwich in the UK.

Sutton has implemented a more formal feedback structure in which she and her team visit the German head office several times a year to provide input into the design and pricing structure of the collections. “We now have wholesale and retail range review meetings to make sure the shapes are right for the UK consumer, who tends to be in the 55-plus age bracket rather than the 45-plus Olsen has in Germany,” she says.

The results of this feedback will be more visible in the spring 11 range but are beginning to show for autumn 10, for which Olsen’s best-selling trouser shape is the Mona Classic - a more modern slim-legged shape that is looser and more flattering than the legging shape.

Olsen has also upped the number of co-ordinates including long-sleeved printed jersey T-shirts, cotton and polyviscose trousers and casual jackets. However, Sutton says the brand will retain its knitwear roots but that there will be a higher proportion of wovens for spring 11, particularly in the UK.

In January, Sutton promoted Claire Simmons from sales manager to the new role of sales director to give a stronger focus to wholesale development. “We’ve identified 20 new accounts in pockets of the UK where we are under-represented and we’re now targeting them,” says Simmons. “We’ll look for a mix of mainstream and some more contemporary accounts.”

Olsen’s UK wholesale business is strong, with autumn 10 sales up 13% on last year.

Olsen 020 7637 2599


450 Number of accounts in the UK
1,020 Number of pieces per season
£12 Starting wholesale price, going up to £80

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