Branded young-fashion retailer Republic remains committed to its expansion plans despite the toughening market conditions.

The retailer wants to add around 20 per cent of space to its estate a year and is set to hit its target of opening another 100 stores in the UK in the next five to six years. It has 93 shops at present.

Republic chief executive Tim Whitworth said the greatest opportunities for Republic in the downturn would be in “real estate and personnel”.
He added that the slowdown on the high street only began to affect its sales this autumn. “Our like-for-like sales continued this year at 6 per cent ahead and gained pace in the spring/summer season. So far this season, like-for-like sales have been flat,” he said.

Whitworth said that Republic’s customers – who have an average age of 22 – are still more resilient than other age groups. He said about 60 per cent of its customers do not own properties, although job losses or the fear of unemployment has hit the confidence of the younger market in recent months.

EBITDA for Republic – which is part owned by Change Capital – soared 30.3 per cent in the year to January 27 to£17.2 million. Total sales for the retailer climbed 11.6 per cent to£120.7 million.

Whitworth said that the retailer would next year focus on “value for money” and bringing more exciting products into stores, rather than relying on deep discounting.

“The biggest challenge in the young-fashion market now is exciting people,” he said.