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Stockists watch and wait after Ashley grabs Firetrap

Young fashion indies said they would axe Firetrap if Sports Direct started selling the brand in its stores, after Firetrap owner World Design & Trade (WDT) was snapped up by Mike Ashley’s retail empire last week.

Sports Direct acquired the wholesale division of WDT, owner of young fashion brands Firetrap and Fullcircle, while the retail division was placed into administration, resulting in the closure of six stores and 51 positions being made redundant, as exclusively revealed by Drapersonline.com on March 16.

Salim Kidiya, owner of young fashion indie Club JJ in Plaistow, east London, said he had not heard from Firetrap since the sale and that he was unsure whether he would continue to stock the brand.

“It all depends on what its distribution terms are going to be,” he said. “If all of a sudden there is a whole lot of Firetrap product in Sports Direct stores, it devalues the brand and we wouldn’t want to be associated with it.”

He added: “Right now if Sports Direct turned around and said we won’t be fulfilling any orders and make it into an in-house brand then I won’t lose any sleep over it.”

Another young fashion indie said: “[Firetrap] has always been a fashion line and you sell it in fashion retailers, but if you put it into a sportswear store then it devalues the product.”

The sales manager of one young fashion brand added: “Retailers will be nervous about Firetrap, as they won’t want to buy into it if it’s going to end up in Sports Direct.”

However, Scott Crowson, managing director of men’s young fashion indie Gere in Lincoln, said Firetrap was a good seller and that both its spring 12 and autumn 12 ranges looked strong: “I’m happy it’s got a new owner. They can invest in the brand and push it forward.”

A source close to Firetrap said the brand has “huge potential” under its new ownership. “It needs to be run completely separately. It’s a good brand and has a huge opportunity,” he said. “For me it’s an opportunity for Sports Direct to show they are serious about premium retailing.”

Last year, Sports Direct bought branded young fashion retailer USC and designer mini-chain Cruise, and also set up a premium lifestyle division.

WDT and Sports Direct declined to comment on the brands’ strategy, but a statement from WDT said Sports Direct was “committed to the current brand strategy and will ensure the continued growth of the business through their investment in both brands and the team”.

Readers' comments (5)

  • Sports Direct will almost certainly place Firetrap in their stores, as the current model is not profitable. Unless Firetrap is going great guns for you, it's likely that many retailers will drop the brand, therefore it's slide is inevitable.

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  • Looking at Sports Directs latest acquisitions Cruise , USC I would disagree. It is not in their interest to devalue the brand. on the contrary they can breath new life into it. I would wait and see what they do next. The verdict is out

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  • I sincerely hope it doesnt end up with WAS £xxxx NOW £xxx swing ticket on!!

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  • If they follow what JD Sports have done with Peter Werth and what they intend to do with Fly53, they all will be well and the Brand should flourish, otherwise it may well end up with the same fate as Sonneti,. ie, mass produced volume akin to market stall clothing.

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  • Whenever J.D or Sports Direct purchase a brand, that brand immediately losses credibility. Add on the fact that they only buy brands on the way down, what in effect have they bought?

    Peter Werth, for example, looks rather nice, but when it gets kicked out of HOF for underperforming, J.D aren't going to keep the brand going to keep a few dozen indies happy are they? It will then go to their own stores, or the brand will be sold on. Sports Direct may have different ideas with Firetrap, but often it's the path of least resistance that wins out and that doesn't involve independents.

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