Luke Johnson goes East and buys stake in bohemian chain

Luke Johnson, the chairman of Channel 4, is to turn his hand to fashion retailing after taking a 50 per cent stake in the boho womenswear chain East, which is owned by four friends who set it up in 1994.

The restaurant entrepreneur, who made his fortune at PizzaExpress, has agreed to take on the non-executive chairmanship of East. He is heading a group of investors who are ploughing millions of pounds into the chain, which has struggled to expand its 60-strong store estate for lack of cash.

Mr Johnson is making the investment through his private equity group Risk Capital Partners. He declined to reveal the identity of East's other new backers, whom he described as "associates". He made no comment about potential plans to float the business, saying only that the consortium was investing a "significant amount of money" because it saw potential for the brand.

For seven months last year East was run by Yasmin Yusuf, the former creative director of Marks & Spencer. But she quit last autumn out of frustration that the group did not have the funds to grow as quickly as she had envisaged. Yesterday she said: "It's a good company and I wish them well."

Mr Johnson's arrival marks the first time that the founders of East have relinquished control of the business they started on London's Fulham Road in 1994. With Mr Johnson as East's figurehead, Clive Pettigrew, a former partner of Peter Simon, the man behind Monsoon, will concentrate on running the retailer known for its ethnic fashions aimed at women in their late 30s and 40s.

Mr Pettigrew, who started East with two former Monsoon employees, Penny Oliver and Jonathan Keating, said he hoped the dual injection of cash and financial know-how would help transform it into a strong high street brand. East made £2.6m of profits before tax on sales of £35.6m in the year to March 2005, its accounts show. It also owns a jewellery and fashion accessory brand, Mint, in which Mr Johnson has also invested.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Guru Careers: Project Manager / Business Analyst

£40-50k + Benefits.: Guru Careers: A Project Manager / Business Analyst is nee...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Swiss Banking and Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Can you speak German,...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power