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New structure at Aurora aims to make the most of online retailing trend

  • @Thompj

Aurora Fashions, the group behind the Coast, Oasis and Warehouse brands, is radically reshaping its businesses to help it capitalise on the rapid shift to online retailing globally.

The overhaul will also make it easier for Aurora's biggest shareholder, the failed Icelandic bank Kaupthing, to sell the womenswear brands later on.

The Independent can reveal the group is spinning off its Coast womenswear chain as an independent company, following the separation of its Karen Millen brand in 2011.

Aurora also plans to spin off its Warehouse and Oasis brands over the next 12 months, after which the group will cease to exist.

Under the devolved structure, Oasis and Warehouse will soon be established under a new parent company, Fresh Channel.

Liz Evans, the managing director of Oasis, will be the new chief executive of Fresh Channel.

Derek Lovelock, the chairman of Aurora, said the delayering process would give the brands more autonomy and better equip them for the huge shift to online sales globally, including consumers picking up internet orders in stores.

He said: "Businesses that are flatter, leaner, more competitive and independent will naturally be easier to sell in an omni-channel retail world. Retailing is no longer about gearing your operating model around bricks and mortar."

Mr Lovelock added: "Instead, our businesses must adapt and utilise a number of distribution channels to ensure we continue to capitalise on the changing global retail environment."

In addition to Mr Lovelock, Aurora's chief executive, Mike Shearwood, and its finance director, Richard Glanville, will oversee the transition to all its brands becoming independent before the middle of next year. All three men will then step down from their day-to-day involvement.

Mr Shearwood is thought to be considering a management buyout of Karen Millen in 2014.

Coast, Oasis and Warehouse have a total of 1,100 stores and concessions between them globally.