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Life & Style born again as Ethel Austin

The new owner of fashion and homewares chain Life & Style is scrapping the name in favour of a return to the Ethel Austin fascia, as part of an overhaul of the business.

Retail veteran Sue Townsend acquired 62 Life & Style stores out of administration for £1.5m last week, and is planning to return the chain to its roots as high street fashion retailer Ethel Austin.

Townsend said: “It is a fantastic brand with a deep heritage. It’s got a very loyal customer base who are very vocal about the buy they want to see, but they just haven’t seen it for four years.”

The offer will return to “fashion basics at a good price”, predominantly across womenswear and kidswear but with some menswear. Homewares will be phased out except in a small number of stores where the range had performed well.

Townsend added that the next six months would be spent focusing on stabilising the retailer by cutting overheads and streamlining the business model, while also putting a digital strategy in place. Within the next four weeks a basic website will go live featuring shop addresses, phone numbers and information about the chain. A transactional website will be developed next year.

Townsend is recruiting a new management team but declined to comment further. She added that Elaine McPherson, former company director of Life & Style, was no longer with the business.

Life & Style, which was created last year following the administration of womenswear chain Ethel Austin, collapsed into administration in June. The sale was handled by RSM Tenon.

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