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River Island moves into beauty licensing in deal with KMI

Published
Jul 2, 2020
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River Island has become the latest fashion retailer to move into the beauty sector with news that it has signed a seven-year deal to launch cosmetics, fragrances and toiletries for women, men and kids.


Shoppers will soon be able to buy River Island beauty products as well as its fashion offer



It's linking up with KMI Brands, the company that's also behind the cosmetics marketed under the Ted Baker brand name.

It's the first time River Island has licensed its brand and the first time it has sold beauty products under its own name. The deal won't only mean the products being sold via its own stores and website. KMI will also distribute its branded fragrance via the wholesale channel, another first as River Island hasn't previously operated in the wholesale arena.

Theodore Sheppard, head of international and business development at River Island, highlighted KMI's "extensive experience [and] strong understanding of brand values. This makes them an outstanding partner to take River Island forward in these categories, which we believe will deliver significant growth in the coming years.”

And Rachel Parsonage, MD at KMI Brands, added that the River Island deal is special. She said the firm is “approached for licensing opportunities in beauty on a regular basis, in fact we haven’t signed a new licence for four years. For us it’s about finding something unique and special which is almost intangible – it’s a feeling, a vibe and when you peel back the layers to explore the cultural fit, this is the magic we are looking for".

The deal is part of a general rollout of new categories by River Island as it seeks to bolster its business in one of the most challenging eras UK fashion retail has ever faced.

In 2018, it added interiors products to the mix, and in recent periods it has added to its kidswear offer with collections such as the collaboration with Samantha Faiers. 

The founding Lewis family has also sought to increase its presence in womenswear and acquired control of Mint Velvet, which gave it a big push in the 35+ area. But not all of their efforts have paid off with Harpenne, the brand launched specifically to fill a gap in the womenswear market, having ceased trading as the impact of the lockdown was felt this spring.

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