Monsoon buys 47 Etam stores from Green to raise high-street presence

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The Independent Online

Less than two weeks after buying the UK business of the ailing Etam high-street fashion chain for £10m, Philip Green has sold off 67 of its stores, 47 to Monsoon and 20 to another retail entrepreneur, Tom Hunter.

Less than two weeks after buying the UK business of the ailing Etam high-street fashion chain for £10m, Philip Green has sold off 67 of its stores, 47 to Monsoon and 20 to another retail entrepreneur, Tom Hunter.

Monsoon said yesterday the cost of buying and converting the stores would be £43m and thesewould increase its floor space by 30 per cent. Although what was paid to Mr Green was not disclosed, it is understood the bulk of the £43m is for shop refittings.

Peter Simon, chairman of Monsoon, said the stores would give Monsoon and its Accessorize brand a high-street presence in a number of towns where it does not currently trade, and would also allow it to relocate existing stores into larger, better-positioned premises. "It will also enable us to open larger, additional dual-format Monsoon Accessorize stores, which have proved a great success," Mr Simon said.

In cities where Monsoon will be moving into larger Etam stores, the company will close down some of its smaller stores. These closures are expected to cost Monsoon around £6m in asset write-offs and disposal costs. The deal with Monsoon will save 350 full-time jobs.

Tom Hunter's West Coast Capital investment group has bought 20 Etam stores, which will be converted into its three retail brands - the clothing store, USC, and the shoe outlets Office and Qube. A spokesman for Mr Hunter said, "We haven't decided how many will be converted into which brands. It depends on the location and what else we have in that city."

Mr Green is converting 15 Etam stores into TopShop outlets, in cities where TopShops are not located. He plans to keep the existing workers on board.

Yesterday's sell-off leaves Mr Green with about 130 Etam stores, but the owner of the Arcadia business said he would not be closing the remaining stores. "We are trading the business. But we are still reviewing the remaining portfolio," Mr Green said yesterday. He bought the Etam chain, which includes the Tammy and Emily May fashion brands, earlier this month from its French owner, Etam Developpement.

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