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Crew Clothing on expansion mode, but slips into the red
Jul '15
British casual wear brand Crew Clothing has launched a store expansion programme after reporting a 12 per cent rise in sales last year, according to media reports.

Sales grew by £6.5 million ($10 million) for the year ending 26 October 2014 to £59 million($ 92 million approx) while operating profits fell to £1.06 million ($1.65 million) from £1.3 million ($2 million) the year before. But despite the increase in sales, the clothing brand slipped into the red, reporting a loss of £106,828 ($166,363) compared to a £226,846 ($353,267) pre-tax profit in 2013.

The company, which has 76 stores in the UK as well as concessions in department store chain John Lewis, said the fall in profits was related to investment in its online business, the media said.

Crew's expansion primarily looks to optimise and retain its online engagement with customers. Last year Crew Clothing reshuffled its management team, replacing chief executive Octavia Morley with former Joules chairman and FatFace chief executive Louise Barnes.

Since then, Crew has invested significantly in its multichannel offering, launching a 'click and collect' service. The brand has also recently switched from email marketing to personalised cloud-based marketing, increasing its number of active customers by 20 per cent and reducing the number of lapsed customers from 55 per cent to 30 per cent.

“The expectations of our customer are changing rapidly and therefore we continue to invest in the key areas of infrastructure in order to provide a high quality of service,” the company said. “This ongoing investment will provide the platform for the future growth of the business with logistics and information technology being strengthened during the year."

Justin Hampshire, Crew's finance director, said that the group planned to open between 10 and 15 stores over the next couple of years. Last year, the fashion business opened just one.

Crew Clothing Co was founded in 1993 by Alistair Parker-Swift, a professional skier and windsurfer. Parker-Swift started the business by selling rugby shirts and sailing-themed clothes from a windsurfing shop in Salcombe, Devon. He is now a director at the company.

The retailer is currently owned by private equity firm Living Bridge. The investment firm bought 25 per cent of Crew in 2006 as part of a £7.7million ($12 million) deal. (SH)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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