Aquascutum seeking London flagship

Upscale fashion retailer Aquascutum aims to return to London’s West End and is seeking a flagship in the premier shopping district.

The hunt for premises comes only a year after the retailer, under different ownership, shut its Regent Street store.

The heritage brand, which was bought out of administration by Hong Kong retailer and wholesaler YGM Trading for £15m in May, is scouting for sites in Regent Street as well as Bond Street and aims to open by autumn 2013.

Aquascutum UK chief executive Tim Dally told Retail Week he wanted to exploit the brand’s “quintessentially British heritage” by opening a flagship in the West End.

Dally said Aquascutum will focus its offer on tourists visiting London from Asia, Russia, the Middle East and North America.

“The value of the Aquascutum brand is its heritage and we are exporting that heritage,” he said.

Aquascutum, which has three UK stores, is among a throng of luxury retailers opening stores in the West End to take advantage of the district’s popularity with tourists. Burberry is to open its flagship on Regent Street in the coming weeks and Chinese luxury brand Bosideng opened on South Molton Street last month.

Dally said the flagship will set the standard for Aquascutum’s 300 global stores, which include shops in China and Japan.

He added that the London store will trigger a roll out of shops across North America in particular. Dally has closed Aquascutum’s North American stores but wants to re-enter with a renewed proposition that will include a stronger focus on design and “Britishness”.

He said this would ensure Aquascutum thrives under YGM – which is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange – along with the fact that it no longer has high levels of debt.

Dally, who expects the business to return to a “healthy” profit within 18 months, said Aquascutum will focus on key lines such as its trademark trench coats and suits.

Retail Week revealed last year that Aquascutum was to close its Regent Street store after 110 years on the site.

Verdict retail analyst Honor Westnedge said Aquascutum faces challenges in its turnaround bid.

“Aquascutum had lost touch with customers as it tried to make the product more fashionable like Burberry, but it went too young. It needs to make sure the product is targeted,” she said.

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