A raft of UK fashion retailers including New Look and Ted Baker are to launch their brands in Germany in partnership with department store group Karstadt.
The German retailer has also drafted in senior managers with UK experience. Gillian Berkmen, previously brand and commercial director of Mothercare, has been hired as chief merchandising officer, and André Maeder, a former Harrods chief merchant and Hugo boss executive, has become chief retail officer.
The retailer has also hired several other new executives.
A total of 50 new international brands will be sold through Karstadt in a move to make its offer more modern and unique.
The changes come as Karstadt, which has 112 shops including Europe’s second-biggest department store – KaDeWe in Berlin – unveiled the latest phase of restructuring under its Karstadt 2015 strategy.
Chief executive Andrew Jennings said the new brands were “a big deal” for Karstadt and would give it unique appeal by offering such an international brand mix.
He said the management appointments bring the “skills and talent to help us take the business to where we want it to be positioned”.
Jennings, who was drafted in to return Karstadt to health after it was bought out of insolvency by investor Nicolas Berggruen in 2010, said Karstadt is being rebuilt on four pillars: modernisation, differentiation, a sharper profile and simplification of the business model.
Jennings, who has worked at Harrods, Saks Fifth Avenue and Woolworths in South Africa, said: “You can’t be slow and steady, you need to be nimble and fast.
“This strategic roadmap has been specifically tailored to safeguard Karstadt’s transition to becoming one of Europe’s leading department store chains.”
Despite the difficulties that have affected some German retailers in recent years, including Karstadt, Germany remains the biggest retail market in Europe and is therefore attractive to new entrants.