TM Lewin bucks the trend

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Shirt retailer TM Lewin is to launch womenswear stores next year, as it revealed profits and sales have bucked the retail downturn.

TM Lewin chief executive Geoff Quinn said: “We are hoping to go into ladies standalone stores for the first half of next year. We would start off in London.”

Mr Quinn said that in a typical TM Lewin menswear stores generates the majority of sales and that womenswear only accounts for about four fixtures.

He said: “There is an opportunity to develop the ladies range in its own right.” TM Lewin has appointed Chris Thornton as designer for ladies wear.

His revelation came as 57-store chain TM Lewin posted sales up by 14 per cent to £63.4 million, while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation increased by 21 per cent to £11 million for the year to February 28.

For the 12 weeks to 24 May, TM Lewin has continued to grow sales by 16 per cent, although the retailer declined to provide like-for-like figures.

Mr Quinn said the uplift in sales was driven by the retailer’s investment in new IT and merchandising systems, distribution network and enhanced product offer.

However, the retailer was also benefiting from the trend of customers investing in smart work clothing, which often happens during an economic downturn.

“Mens formal wear is an area that tends to do quite well when things tighten up outside. When things get tough they want to fit in but confidently stand out in the way they dress,” said Mr Quinn.

TM Lewin opened 12 stores last year and is on track to open a similar number in the year to February 2009.

Mr Quinn also revealed that TM Lewin plans to launch overseas in the second-half of 2009 with a franchise partner in the Far East, although he declined to name countries and stressed that the retailer’s plans were at an early stage. Mr Quinn denied TM Lewin was plotting a launch in New York. “I do not think the climate is right for expansion in New York at the moment,” said Mr Quinn.

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