River Island hatching plans for first store in US after bouncing back from pandemic
Hitting the right note: Sofia Richie, daughter of pop star Lionel Richie
River Island is hatching plans for its first store in the US after bouncing back from the pandemic.
Will Kernan, chief executive at the family-owned clothing chain, said online demand has soared in hotspots across California, New York, Texas and Florida. US sales are now several times bigger than in 2019, he said.
River Island, which also sells through Nordstrom department stores, raised its profile among celebrities who wear the brand, including Sofia Richie, daughter of pop star Lionel Richie.
‘We see it as a major growth opportunity,’ said Kernan. ‘Even though the brand is not well known in certain parts of the US, what’s interesting is that the product is resonating strongly.’
The company began a business ‘reset’ in 2019, which included reducing the time it takes to get newly designed products into shops.
Ranges were broadened to attract younger and older shoppers, and Studio RI – offering more pricey garments – was launched.
The business swung to an operating profit of £73.5million in 2021 from a loss of £36.2million in the previous year.
It also benefited from £14million in furlough support.