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Front Up enters the wholesale scrum

Rugby-inspired clothing etailer Front Up is expanding into wholesale and ramping up its product range following an investment by a consortium of industry veterans including Simon Smith, the former managing director of young fashion brands Fly53 and Fullcircle.

Keith Watson, the non-executive director of luxury leather goods brand Aspinal of London, and Guy Hipwell, the former online managing director of department store Liberty, are also among the investors. The details of the deal remain undisclosed.

Front Up was founded in 2008 by Jon Allen, who will continue as managing director, while Smith and Watson have joined the board as non-executive directors.

Following the investment, Front Up will open its first concession in Debenhams in Gloucester in July, and is seeking further concession partners as well as wholesale accounts. It was previously only sold online from its own website,, and also via Amazon and direct to customers at events.

Allen said: “We thought the Rugby World Cup [which starts in September] would be an opportunity to get into the high street.”

Allen wants to secure about 20 wholesale accounts over the next 12 months and expand to 100 within four to five years.

The brand’s collection includes T-shirts, polo shirts, hoodies and sweats, but will be expanded over coming seasons. Wholesale prices range from £8 to £18. The range will be available from August for short-order autumn 11 orders. A Rugby World Cup range is due to launch in July.

Allen said the brand sits alongside lifestyle brand Canterbury of New Zealand and Raging Bull, the sports brand owned by England rugby star Phil Vickery, but is pitched at a younger age group of 16 to 24-year-olds.

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