River Island is to introduce external womenswear brands for the first time as it seeks a low-risk way to diversify its product offering.

The clothing retailer will launch young fashion brands including Forever Unique and Little Mistress in its Liverpool One store and online later this month, with a view to a wider roll-out.

River Island is also in talks with concessions business Hallett Retail, which works with Debenhams and New Look, to introduce more womenswear brands via a concessions model, it is understood.

The shift follows the retailer’s introduction of menswear brands.

Rival New Look introduced external brands in 2007, while Topshop has sold brands for more than five years.

According to one retail source, introducing brands is a “far less risky” way of diversifying a product offer than investing in own-label.

A River Island spokesman said: “We are pleased to be trialling two exciting brands.”

Little Mistress will launch up to 30 pieces, while Forever Unique will introduce 14. Hallett Retail could not be reached for comment.