Spanish retailer Grupo Cortefiel is to open its first UK stores by the end of the summer in Leeds, Livingston and the yet-to-open One New Change development in the Cityof London.
The fashion retailer will open stores for its three brands - Cortefiel, Springfield and Women’s Secret - in The Centre, Livingston. It will also open Springfield and Womens’Secret shops in Leeds’ White Rose Centre, and a Womens’Secret shop in One New Change.
The shops are being opened in conjunction with Land Securities-backed Brand Empire, set up last year to help international retailers enter the UK market.
Laline, the Israeli health and beauty chain, is also poised to sign its first UK store at One New Change, as part of its own deal with Brand Empire.
Brand Empire chief executive Sanjay Sharma, who said he wants to open 10 to 12 stores this year, said he was in “advanced discussions with another two international fashion brands” that could launch in 2011.
Sharma said: “We want brands with a real point of difference and the ability to scale up. It is an industry-wide opportunity.”
Brand Empire acts as the “incubator” for the new brands, on a minimum five-year contract, after which, unless the contract is renewed, the brands take control to roll out the chain.
Sharma believes both Womens’Secret and Springfield could have 50 stores each, while Cortefiel could open 30-plus. He added that Laline could have a “minimum of 30 stores”. Brand Empire has also hired two retail officers, appointing Lucy Green, The White Company’s former retail controller, as head of retail and Helen Beebe as head of merchandising. Beebe held the same role at Fat Face.
Brand Empire looks after the recruitment, marketing and operations for the retailers, for a fee.
“We have met with major landlords and are very confident about opening in their centres,” said Sharma, who is planning five to six store openings a year for each brand in the long term. “We are giving the brands confidence to build.”
At present Grupo Cortefiel sells in 48 countries internationally.