Mike Clare, the colourful founder of beds retailer Dreams, is in the advanced stages of launching an outsize clothing etailer.
Clare, who netted £200m from the sale of Dreams last year, said he had spent a year “in the wilderness” and is now “back to business”.
The mens- and womenswear etailer is expected to launch by early next year. Clare said the venture is “about sourcing classic, mainstream, well-fitted clothes” for larger sizes.
Clare has not yet named the venture but said: “We’re toying with the ideas of names like Chubby Clothes and Chunky Hunks.”
According to TNS Worldpanel Fashion, the plus-size market in mens- and womenswear has declined in the past year 9% and 5% respectively. However, sales of men’s plus-size clothing online have soared 30% this year to £158m, and those men, some of whom are reluctant to go into physical stores, now spend 12% of their clothing budget online.
Clare had mulled buying outsize men’s clothing retailer High & Mighty, which last week was acquired by N Brown.
He said: “It [outsize clothing] is a growing market. It’s huge in America, and there aren’t many people doing it – it’s not a very sexy area of the market – but I wouldn’t go into anything if it wasn’t scalable.”
Clare is hiring a team to run the etailer. He insisted his lack of clothing retailing experience did not matter and said: “A lot of it is common sense and thinking what the customer wants – it’s not high fashion.”
Clare is setting up the venture through his new company Clarenco. He also intends to launch around 11 other businesses, including a property company that will rent small units on short leases to fledgling retailers. Another business, which Clare described as “a version of Mary Queen of Shops”, will provide independents with retail expertise.
Clare this week received an honorary doctorate degree from Buckinghamshire New University in recognition of his work at Dreams.