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Irisa wields axe on a third of its standalone stores

Mainstream womenswear retailer Irisa Group is to close almost a third of its standalone stores over the next few months and replace them with concessions.

Irisa, which was formerly Alexon Group before it was bought out of administration by private equity firm Sun Capital Partners in September, will shutter approximately 20 of its 68 stores between the end of December and March next year. The closures will mainly be at its plus-size Ann Harvey fascia.

The group’s other fascias are  Alexon, Dash, Eastex, Kaliko, Lazy Lu and Minuet Petite.

About 30 concessions will open next year across department stores including Debenhams, House of Fraser, Beales and Fenwick, taking the total number in the group to 1,090 across all fascias.

According to Irisa chief executive Jane McNally, the closures are part of an “ongoing review of its property portfolio”, which has been under way since March 2010. It does not signal a bid to exit all of its standalone stores.

“Wherever possible we have been trying to work to transfer business and some of the staff to a concession location in the same area,” McNally said.

Although McNally declined to reveal the locations of the stores that will close, she said they would be ones that were “handovers” from its previous businesses, such as Dolcis and Bay Trading, and not stores that were “hand-picked” for the fascias they currently house.

According to McNally, Ann Harvey will suffer the most store closures because its customers prefer to shop online. At present, Ann Harvey has 35 stores.

Irisa will continue to invest in its online and mobile channels.

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