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New Liberty owner vows to slimline branded offering

Marco Capello, the new owner and chairman of Liberty, has outlined plans to scale back the London department store’s brands to focus on increasing the depth of its offer.

Capello, who completed the £32m acquisition of the iconic retailer last week via his BlueGem Capital Partners investment vehicle, said he would not alter Liberty’s position as a retailer of avant-garde fashion and emerging design talent, but that he would focus on increasing sales per square foot with a slimmed-down and more focused branded offer.

Capello told Drapers: “We need to reduce the offering and make it more authoritative to sell it well. Do we need to have all of those brands? My bias would be to have less brands with more depth and more authority.”

Capello, who will complete a review of the business this month, said he did not yet know whether Liberty would introduce a more mainstream range to cater for price-sensitive shoppers but added that tourists - one of Liberty’s three key customer groups - would respond to a lower-priced offer.

Capello said the store would also reallocate its space to better cater for its established customer - with a penchant for its fabrics and scarves - and its fashion-forward customer.

He said Liberty would continue to collaborate with designers and retailers, such as the tie-up with US retailer Target for spring 10. An exclusive Manolo Blahnik footwear range will launch in September.

Capello has vowed to return the store to profit by 2011. Last year, pre-tax losses were £4.5m.

Former buying director Ed Burstell has become managing director and chief executive Geoffroy de La Bourdonnaye has returned to Paris but remains on the Liberty board.

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