Republic’s new boss, Paul Sweetenham, has kick-started an investment programme that includes new hires, own-brand launches and its first move into international markets.

The retailer has hired former Mango buying director Melissa McDermott as head of womenswear. She will lead the launch of three new womenswear own brands in spring 2013 as it aims to grow the category. 

Sweetenham said the new brands would broaden its offer and would include a smarter fashion line. 

Republic is also on the verge of hiring a multichannel and brand director.

The retailer will also debut internationally, with four concessions in German department store Karstadt.

UK expansion is still on the agenda, and London is a particular focus. It is eyeing retail centres such as Hammersmith, Wood Green and Lewisham.  

Republic is also opening a new-format store in its hometown of Leeds in September. Sweetenham described it as a “retail venue” that will feature live music. 

Republic, which already sponsors the Ibiza Rocks festival, is looking to the music industry to help it connect with its shoppers and intends to tie-up with a selection of artists.

Sweetenham said that current sales were flat and that he is leading a “product-led recovery”.

He added: “We’re investing to return to growth.” 

Sweetenham said margins had “significantly improved” in the four months he has been in charge after a move away from discounting.

He said: “We’re doubling SKUs in Republic stores but halving the quantity. There will be much more freshness in-store. Although our customers are interested in ‘new’, not discounts, great value is still a key decision in buying. We will be first retail and right retail.” 

Republic is owned by private equity firm TPG and chaired by former Asda boss Andy Bond.