Fashion retailer Republic collapsed into administration today with 150 head office staff made redundant. Retail Week takes a look at the history of the 26-year-old retailer.


  • 1986: Republic founded as Just Jeans in Leeds by Robin Bray, Carl Brewins and Howard Brealey – a privately owned jeanswear and casual clothing specialist. Former boss Tim Whitworth joins as a Saturday boy.
  • 1989: The business opens its second store in Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield.
  • 1990s: The product range is extended to reflect the fashion trend away from denim to alternative fabrics. Rebrands as Best Jeanswear.
  • 1998: First Republic store launched.
  • Early 2000s: Best Jeanswear disappears from the high street replaced by the business’ own label, Republic, trading from 36 stores.
  • 2003: Republic receives a £17m investment from private equity firm 3i as part of a £20m geared placing at the beginning of 2004. The next 18 months sees the shop network doubling in size to 70 under the direction of Richard Tonks who had been brought in as chairman by 3i.
  • 2005: Change Capital steps in to acquire part of the original management’s shareholdings and 3i’s minority stake in a £105m deal, thus becoming the majority shareholder. Change Capital was created by Luc Vandevelde, former chairman and chief executive of Marks & Spencer, and backed by the Halley family. Capital investment totalled £9.3m in 2009/10, £9.6m in 2010/11 and £11.7m in 2011/12.
  • 2006: The 83-store retailer sets an expansion target of 250 new stores.
  • 2010: Brand manager Nick Preston, who had been credited with introducing key young fashion brands such as G-Star, Henleys and Diesel to Republic, leaves the company. In June 2010, Change Capital took advantage of Republic’s strong recent performance and sold its majority stake to TPG. The bid was reported to be worth around £300m.
  • 2010: The retailer opens its first stores in the Republic of Ireland.
  • 2011: Former Asda chairman and chief executive Andy Bond appointed as chairman, effective immediately. Guy Critchlow, former managing director of Kookai UK, appointed to the new role of chief operating officer in early 2011. His tenure proves to be short-lived - he departs the company in November. Finance director Ed Bennison also leaves in mid-2011. His post still remains vacant.
  • 2012: The company opens four concessions in Karstadt department stores in Germany. UK expansion plans are revised down to 200 stores. Former TK Maxx boss Paul Sweetenham is appointed as chief executive. Founders Carl Brewins and Tim Whitworth step back from day-to-day running. Plans unveiled to relaunch its website as part of a £7.3m investment in IT infrastructure as it seeks multichannel growth.
  • 2013: Republic collapses into administration with 150 head office staff immediately made redundant. The 121-store retailer employs 2,500 people.
  • February, 28: Sports Direct acquires the business