Preppy chain J Crew to open first UK shop

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The Independent Online

J Crew, the US preppy fashion brand which counts the First Lady Michelle Obama among its fans, is talking to landlords and agents after drawing up plans for a UK launch.

The company said it was homing in on central London for its first European store. J Crew's chief executive, Mickey Drexler, has held talks with landlords including the Crown Estate about shop space in Regent Street and Capital & Counties for Covent Garden.

J Crew is now in the process of hiring a London-based property agent from a shortlist of four. The fashion retailer tested the water in Britain this year via its website, where it sells clothes by mail order, as well as through designer website Net-a-Porter. J Crew joins a host of US brands making a home in London. Forever 21, Michael Kors and Banana Republic are just some of the retailers to open stores in this country in recent years.

J Crew, which has 235 stores in the US, began expanding outside America this year with a store in Canada. The fashion giant made a net loss of $40.5m for the first six months of this financial year, compared with a net income of $79.6m last year, after it was hit by acquisition-related costs.

Its revenues increased by 3 per cent to $844.4m but its like-for-like sales remained flat.

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