The Prodigal Label: Thomas Burberry Line Relaunches in the U.K.

LONDON — Burberry has a new baby for Britain — and eventually perhaps the rest of the world.The company’s relaunched Thomas...

Bravo said that plans to distribute Thomas Burberry beyond the U.K. were still in their early stages. “We may test a few items in the U.S., but for the moment we’re focusing on the U.K. market.” It is understood that the next step for Thomas Burberry will be the rest ofcontinental Europe.

Bravo said the line has been a solid success in Spain and Portugal and generates about 15 percent of Burberry’s overall sales in the Iberian peninsula. Prices of the new collection range from $256 to $478 for jackets, and from $96 to $208 for knitwear.

Based on its success in Iberia, analysts believeBurberry could have another hit on its hands. “Itshould not be difficult to bring sales to $100 millionin the long term, with worldwide distribution,” one London-based analyst said.

The collection boasts a jaunty flag logo with 1835emblazoned on it, the year of company founder Thomas Burberry’s birth.

Both the men’s and women’s collections have acollegiate feel with chunky knits, rugby jerseysand sweatshirts bearing Thomas Burberry logosand patches. There are swingy plaid cottonminiskirts and slim cotton drill trousers. The outerwearis rugged and sporty: Montgomery coats, military-inspired jackets and other jackets and coats with industrial hardware closures and toggles. Accessories include rucksacks, backpacks and signature mufflers.

While Burberry has over the past five years extendedits London collection by injecting more denim pieces, T-shirts and sporty knits, it views the Thomas Burberry line as younger and more casual than much of the London collection. In addition, Thomas Burberry does not use the signature Burberry plaid, which is reserved for the Londonand Prorsum lines.

Technically, this is the third go-round for Thomas Burberry in the U.K. The line was launched in September 1988 as a women’s and men’s separates and outerwear collection priced 20 to 30 percent below the main line. At the time, Thomas Burberry was introduced in the U.K. marketvia a 1,200-square-foot department in Burberry’s flagshipstore on Regent Street. The plan was to wholesale the lineworldwide and create a string of in-store shops. Two yearslater, it was available in 22 Burberry stores in Europe aswell as Selfridges.

However, the planned aggressive rollout never occurred. At the time, industry observers said that Burberry had a hard time keeping the Thomas Burberry line separate from its main collection and was concerned that Thomas Burberry was eating into the sales of its core business —which was struggling to capture a younger customer. But in 1996, Burberry opened the first freestanding store for Thomas Burberry, a 1,400-square-foot unit on Regent Street, not far from its flagship. It was supposed to be the first in a string of stores worldwide, including New York, but the plans never took shape and the line was put on hold in Britain after Bravo and her team came onboard. Meanwhile, it continued to grow in Spain and Portugal, where Burberry’s then-licensee(which it later acquired) built the line into a major casualwear business competing against brands like Gap and Polo.
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