Shop Direct has struck a deal with England and Manchester United footballer Rio Ferdinand to sell his footwear range via its Very brand, and is opening a dual-branded pop-up shop to promote the partnership.
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The range, Five by Rio Ferdinand, will go online from the end of this month and the pop-up shop will open in London’s Covent Garden for two weeks in mid-April. The footwear brand is currently stocked in just six stores nationwide.
The range includes military-style lace-up boots, brogues and brushed leather trainers.
The partnership is the latest celebrity tie-up for Very, which is also partnered with TV stars Holly Willoughby, Fearne Cotton and Steve Jones.
Shop Direct retail director Gareth Jones said that, despite tough trading conditions, Very sales were up year on year. He said: “It’s been tough in February but we’re holding our market share. Very is performing well and continues to grow. It’s competing with Isme to be this year’s top performer.”
Newly launched mature brand Isme is performing “ahead of expectations” according to Jones. The online department store, aimed at style-conscious over 50s, is outperforming the Marshall Ward brand, which it replaced. Isme sales are up 23% on Marshall Ward.
Jones said: “We’re getting a great response from both existing Shop Direct customers and new customers. New customers are up 133%. We used to get 100 enquiries a week for Marshall Ward catalogues, we get 4,000 a week for Isme.”
The etailer has invested heavily in above-the-line advertising to promote the brand, including sponsorship of TV show Loose Women, which stars the face of Isme, Lynda Bellingham.
Jones said: “Our focus was big brand advertising to build a profile. We thought it would take time for trading to pick up. We didn’t expect such an immediate response. It shows how under-served this market is.”