Mulberry rival Village England bags first London store


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The Independent Online

A new British handbag brand that is targeting shoppers who have found Mulberry too expensive has opened its first shop as its wholesale sales jump by nearly a third.

Village England was founded by Eddie Knevett, the former head of accessories at department store House of Fraser, and Julia Dobson, the former UK boss for LVMH-owned French brand Céline, in 2012.

The brand this month opened its first shop in Covent Garden – a pop up shop on Floral Street - and the pair are now looking at options for a permanent store.

The brand revealed wholesale orders up 31 per cent on last year and it is now stocked in 26 department stores and independent shops having opened new accounts in Italy, Spain and Belgium. Overall sales are up 8 per cent for the first half of this year and website sales jumped 53 per cent. Dobson forecasts that 2014 turnover will be around £400,000.

AIM-listed fashion brand Mulberry, which previously suffered from a string of profit warnings, had been accused of alienating its existing fans with too many £1,000-plus handbags and recently took steps to increase the number of bags at the £500 range. While the majority of Village England’s bags sell for less than £300.

Village England has also been selling its wares at a range of events including County Fairs and will take a stand in the autumn at Burghley Horse Trials, Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials, the Rare Brand event at Goodwood racecourse and the Best of Britannia in Clerkenwell.

Dobson said: “Shoppers love the Englishness of our brand.”