Esprit refashions its offer for UK

Esprit is re-entering the UK with a flagship store on London’s Regent Street, four years after it turned its back on the market.

German interior design consultancy Schwitzke & Partner is creating the new look.

The store, which is scheduled to open in May, aims to position the Esprit brand as more fashion-led and also move the designs of existing stores in Europe to appeal to the more sophisticated British market, says Schwitzke & Partner director Karl Schwitzke.

The store will feature white ceilings, a natural stone floor and plasma screens featuring changeable images of models and products. It aims to become a competitor to Regent Street neighbours French Connection, Zara and Mango.

Regent Street will include Esprit’s younger EDC line, aimed at 14to 18-year-olds, for the first time in the UK. If the store’s format is successful, Esprit will roll it out to further stores in the UK, and already has plans for a store at the Bluewater Shopping Centre in Kent.

International retailer Esprit left the UK in 1997. According to an Esprit spokeswoman, the brand was then positioned as “boutique-like”, the shops were too small and the clothes were overpriced compared with rival UK brands.

Esprit chief executive Heinz Krogner took over that year and closed its UK operation to “start restructuring the brand from within and strengthening it in Europe”, the spokeswoman says. “Esprit is now strong enough to re-enter the UK,” she adds.

A Europe-wide rollout is already in progress, with new stores in Germany, France and Austria.

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