JD Sports Fashion is poised to rebrand its Cecil Gee chain as Oki-ni as the sportswear giant moves closer to a deal with the premium menswear etailer.
It is understood that if a deal goes ahead, JD Sports Fashion will revamp at least part of the eight-strong chain under the Oki-ni fascia as it looks to move into the premium menswear market. Sources suggest the changes will be implemented later this year.
Brand agency Fourmarketing, which owns Oki-ni, is thought to have held discussions over the future of the business with a number of potential investors, but Drapers has been told by insiders it is now in talks with JD Sports Fashion. It is not known whether talks will proceed to a full acquisition or some form of partnership between the two businesses.
JD Sports Fashion acquired Cecil Gee from Moss Bros for £1.7m in June. At the time it said it planned to trade the stores with an “enhanced but similar premium branded offer”.
Under Moss Bros, Cecil Gee stocked brands including Armani Jeans, Hugo Boss, Polo Ralph Lauren, Diesel and Ted Baker.
Oki-ni, which launched in September 2001, stocks brands including Acne, Christopher Kane, Lee 101 and Thom Browne.
JD Sports Fashion has this year snapped up the trading assets of Spanish sports chain Sprinter, menswear brand Peter Werth and streetwear brand Fenchurch, as well as sports chain Champion in the Republic of Ireland.
Rival Sports Direct has also been making inroads into the premium market, with chief executive Mike Ashley splashing out £7m on buying branded chain USC and designer chain Cruise from Sir Tom Hunter in July. It is rumoured to be close to acquiring premium indie mini-chain Van Mildert.
JD Sports Fashion and Oki-ni were unavailable for comment as Drapers went to press.