Scotland business

Austin Reed brand set for high street return

An Austin Reed shop front Image copyright Press Association

Menswear retailer Austin Reed is set to make a return to the high street with 50 new stores, months after it collapsed with the loss of 1,000 jobs.

Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group announced the move as part of a £100m three-year revival plan for the brand.

The Langholm-based group bought the 116-year-old chain's brand from administrators in May.

The first of the new stores are due to open towards the end of next year, including a flagship outlet in London.

Administrators of Austin Reed were forced to shut 120 stores in the summer after they failed to find a buyer for the entire business.

The company, which was founded in 1900, collapsed after struggling with debt and plunging sales.

Edinburgh Woollen Mill, headed by billionaire retail entrepreneur Philip Day, has already relaunched the Austin Reed brand online with a new autumn/winter collection.

A larger spring/summer collection will follow early next year.

Image copyright Press Assocation
Image caption Austin Reed was founded in 1900

The move comes as part of a wider expansion plan announced by Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group, which owns fashion brands Peacocks and Jane Norman as well as the Edinburgh Woollen Mill chain.

It wants to open 200 stores group-wide by early 2018, including the Austin Reed shops, which will create more than 2,000 jobs.

The firm said the move came on the back of rising sales and record profits for the year to 27 February.

Steve Simpson, group commercial director of Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group, said: "With the addition of Austin Reed, which we acquired earlier this year, as well as Country Casuals and Viyella, we aim to continue this organic growth, while always being ready to respond to other opportunities as they arise."

The group, which also owns homewares retailer Ponden Mill and golfing brand Pro-Quip, posted a 2.4% rise in underlying annual pre-tax profits to £90.9m after growing total sales to £576.3m from £562.6m a year earlier.

Bottom line profits fell 14.5% to £89.8m.

The group opened 43 shops in the year to the end of February and now has more than 980 outlets across the UK, as well as concessions and online stores.

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