Amazon 'on brink of launching UK fashion label'

Amazon is reportedly on the brink of launching its own UK fashion label in a move experts believe threatens to shake up Britain's £48 billion clothing market.
Amazon has the power to "stir things up"Amazon has the power to "stir things up"
Amazon has the power to "stir things up"

The online giant is said to be already developing its own-label clothing and could launch ranges as soon as this spring, according to fashion trade bible Drapers.

It has poached senior buying directors from high street rivals, with Frances Russell, former womenswear director at Marks & Spencer, hired as vice-president of clothing at Amazon a year ago.

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She has since been joined by Karen Peacock, former head of design for womenswear and accessories at M&S, with Primark's menswear buying director Glen George also understood to be moving to the online retailer.

Experts said the move poses a threat to existing players, although they said Amazon could struggle to gain market share in an intensely competitive market.

Richard Lim, chief executive of Retail Economics, said Amazon has the power to "stir things up".

He said: "Amazon is a very cash rich business and if they want to launch into a sector, they won't do things by half.

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"They offer convenience, good value and speedy and well-priced delivery, so it's a good customer experience."

Retail Economics said the UK clothing market was worth a mammoth £48 billion in 2016.

It is very fragmented though, with the high street players being squeezed while online fast-fashion firms such as ASOS are enjoying impressive growth.

"Amazon has seen how successful these pure online retailers have been over the last few years and are thinking they could compete in that area," said Mr Lim.

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But other experts believe Amazon will have a tough job building market share.

Tom Gadsby, retail analyst at Liberum, said Amazon is not a "go-to fashion label".

"It takes a really long time to build a brand, even when you're Amazon," he added.

Amazon already sells women's underwear in the UK under its Iris & Lilly brand, while in the US it has a raft of own brands, including James & Erin and Franklin Tailored.

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The move into own-label fashion comes soon after its foray into the UK grocery market, which has put established groups such as online retailer Ocado under pressure.

Adam Tomlinson at Liberum warned: "When Amazon decide they want to do something in any space, it's always a threat.

"They're very ambitious and innovative."

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