Feb 6, 2017
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Phase Eight and Whistles owner buys Damsel in a Dress

Feb 6, 2017

South African retailer The Foschini Group (TFG) has acquired Damsel in a Dress, the UK-based premium womenswear brand to add to its growing portfolio of mid-market UK brands. No purchase price was disclosed but it is known that its founders will no longer be involved with the business and TFG has a new management and creative structure already in place.

Damsel in a Dress joins Whistles and Phase Eight as part of the TFG portfolio

TFG also owns Whistles, Studio 8 and Phase Eight as well as well as brands in its home market such as Foschini, Luella, Donna-Claire, and Charles & Keith, among others.

Seven-year-old Damsel in a Dress currently sells via its own website and through major name department stores including John Lewis, House of Fraser and Arnotts Dublin. It generated sales of £7m last year, significantly smaller than other brands in the TFG UK stable suggesting the company sees major expansion potential in its new purchase.

Creative direction will now be driven by a new team led by Victoria Snepp who previously headed up design at the Bastyan and who has also worked at mid-market peers Jigsaw and Whistles.

Judith Bremner, Phase Eight’s brand director, will be responsible for strategic direction. She said on Monday that the company is working on a “brand refresh” for its new acquisition and will unveil a new-look AW17 collection in May.

TFG London chief executive Ben Barnett said the latest buy is the third acquisition for the firm in 24 months and the company “continues to see significant opportunities for organic and acquisitive growth in the UK market.” He added that TFG has seen strong growth for its acquired brands in the past 12 months and expects further progress on the sales and profit front this year.

Lee Harlow, MD of TFG London, added that the company plans to develop the Damsel in a Dress brand in the UK as well as internationally, “leveraging the network and relationships established within Phase Eight and Whistles.”

With its existing brands all majoring on retail as well as being available as wholesale, it is also seen as likely that TFG will look at opening stores for brand.

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