Aquascutum to appoint new CEO

British brand Aquascutum has named Kim Winser its new president and chief executive. The company, which made its name with rain-repellant wool coats, is expected to make the official announcement today.”The most exciting thing for me is the brand’s potential,” Winser told WWD in an interview. Winser is responsible for turning around Pringle of Scotland before accepting this post. In her new role she will report to Aki Kawashima, chairman of Kaleido Holdings, the private equity fund that acquired a 20 percent stake in Aquascutum’s Japanese parent Renown last year.

According to Winser, Kaleido is investing an initial £40 million to revive the brand. She declined to reveal the full investment amount over three years.

Aquascutum generated sales of £220 million a year. It has flagship stores in London and Tokyo and an additional 200 shop-in-shops in Japan, 30 in the UK and 20 in South Korea, and a stand alone store in Manchester. Distribution to the rest of the world is limited, said Winser.

Although this is not the first attempt to revive the brand – owner Renown tried in 1990 – Winser insists the brand has remained pure. “There was never any discounting, a lot of the licenses are well-developed and solid, and there is a retail operation in place. And it has always remained a luxury brand.”

She said there will be “a major focus on the US and continental Europe, especially Italy and France”, and added that it would be with a “big retail partner”.

Through store openings and an image overhaul, Winser hopes to double the brand’s sales volume by 2009. A new campaign will be launched before Christmas, with an elegant and “cool” look. She is determined to have luxury customers think of the brand when they think of coats. These same customers would carry Chanel bags or wear Hermes ties.

In terms of creativity, Winser said, “Initially the brand is going to need a creative team, with designers, a brand guru, marketing and pr experts. I think, eventually, as the brand develops, it will at some point need a creative director.”

Under Winser, sales at Pringle grew from £10 million to $178 million (£100 million).

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