Land Securities has parted company with the head of its Brand Empire venture, designed to help new retailers open in the UK, and dissolved an agreement to open stores with one of its partners.
Sanjay Sharma, the former head of international for fashion retailer Karen Millen, has left the property company by mutual agreement. It is understood the slower pace of growth planned for Brand Empire did not fit with Sharma’s vision for the venture. Land Securities commercial director Ronan Faherty has taken charge of Brand Empire and Sharma is not being replaced.
At the same time, Brand Empire has pulled back from an agreement with Israeli cosmetics retailer Laline to open stores in the UK. Last March Laline announced that it would be the fourth partner for Brand Empire. However, it proved impossible to agree a rate of expansion that would satisfy Laline while keeping Land Securities’ exposure to reasonable levels.
The cancellation of the deal with Laline leaves Brand Empire working with three brands, all of them owned by Spanish fashion group Cortefiel: Springfield, Women’Secret and Cortefiel itself. It has opened just eight UK stores, all in centres at least partly owned by Land Securities.
Land Securities managing director for retail Richard Akers said it remained committed to the contract with Cortefiel, but admitted it would take much longer than expected to reach the 15 to 20 stores for each of the three brands.
“The original plans are still in place, but we’ve turned the heat down.” Brand Empire launched in 2009 and aimed to help international retailers get into the UK market for a royalty fee. It had been in talks with more than 10 international retailers.