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Ecommerce debut for Polo Ralph Lauren

Polo Ralph Lauren will launch its first transactional UK website next month, angering some of its wholesale stockists.

The premium US fashion house hopes the site - at www.ralphlauren.co.uk - will help it to grow its UK revenue tenfold over the next five years. It will stock the firm’s entire port­folio of sub-brands, from its catwalk collections to its denim and golf ranges.

The business has set itself the target of achieving 20% of its UK sales from ecommerce within the first two years of the site’s operation. UK turnover was £17.8m for the year ended March 28, 2009.

David Lauren, son of founder Ralph and senior vice president of advertising, marketing and communications, who is spearheading the launch, said: “We are hoping the website will become our most profitable UK store.”

Lauren was adamant the launch would not cannibalise the business’s wholesale operations. He said: “In the US, customers who shop online spend more in our stores and also in our [wholesale] partner stores, so we are hoping to use the site to increase awareness of the brand.”

But some of the brand’s UK stockists said they had concerns. Steve Cochrane, owner of Middlesbrough indie department store Psyche, said: “Ralph Lauren does a lot of promotions and discounts on the US website and, if it repeats that here, it could impact our sales.”

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