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UK store and European openings herald Rigby & Peller retail push

Premium lingerie retailer Rigby & Peller has pushed the button on its retail expansion strategy by opening its seventh UK store and three stores in Europe, its first outside the UK.

The stores represent the first phase of UK and overseas growth following Belgian lingerie brand house Van de Velde’s acquisition of the business in August. At the time, Van de Velde said it would open two Rigby & Peller stores each year in the UK and launch a retail business in Europe.

Rigby & Peller, which holds the Royal Warrant as corsetière to the Queen, has opened stores in Düsseldorf, Berlin and Barcelona in the past two months.

An 800 sq ft store on Bow Lane in the City of London takes Rigby & Peller’s store count in the capital back to six, after the closure of its Brent Cross store in December. Another UK store will open in Guildford in August.

Rigby & Peller managing director Sharon Teasdale said of the Brent Cross closure: “The lease was up for renewal and we felt we were better off focusing on other locations.

“We will look to open two to three stores in the UK each year but will make sure we choose our markets very carefully.”

Rigby & Peller also plans to increase its own-brand offer – its brand is among its three best-sellers – for spring 13, upping the range by about 50% to include a larger selection of bras and swimwear.

The majority of the styles will initially be available only in the UK, with a view to a European roll-out.

The retailer also relaunched its transactional website last week, with the aim of offering better customer service online. The site, has been migrated to a new provider, with improved navigation and zoom functionality to view products.

Teasdale said online conversions in the first week were up 10%. Rigby & Peller is now looking to launch an international version of the website.

Sadie Ayton, owner of five-store lingerie indie Sadie the Bra Lady, based in the Northeast, said the retailer had the potential to do well overseas: “They are a strong British brand and are held in very high regard.”

Total expenditure on women’s lingerie in the UK for the year to April 15, 2012 was £2.62bn, according to research firm Kantar.

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