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John Lewis to Expand Own-Label Menswear to Stay Ahead of Rivals

John Lewis Partnership Plc, the U.K.’s largest department-store chain, plans to increase the proportion of menswear sales derived from its own labels to almost a third in an effort to keep ahead of rivals.

The employee-owned retailer will start selling 45 new products under the John Lewis & Co. label on Sept. 13 and aims to increase the proportion of own-brand sales from about 25 percent now, according to Matt McCormack, the head of menswear.

“It’s our way of differentiating ourselves from the high street, an element of something that can’t be purchased anywhere else,” McCormack said in an interview. “John Lewis has a great, rich heritage and it’s a great brand to do it with.”

Own-brands tend to be more profitable for department stores than lines sold by concession partners such as Ted Baker Plc and Diesel SpA. John Lewis is aiming to keep in front of smaller rivals such as Debenhams Plc, which has been replacing areas in its outlets run by other retailers with its own labels.

John Lewis & Co. will target men in their mid-to-late 20s up to the age of 40 with products such as a 59-pound ($95.10) stripe crew jumper, McCormack said. That’s younger than existing John Lewis men’s range, which includes cashmere scarves and 35-pound gingham Oxford shirts, he said.

The retailer is also extending its formal ranges with the introduction of a Made in Italy line that includes a 400-pound camel hair coat, the executive said. It’s also adding a 150-pound two-button suit jacket as part of the slim-fit John Lewis Collection, as well as the John Lewis British range, which offers tweed jackets and Melton collars.

“About 30 percent of our offer needs to be exclusive,” McCormack said.

John Lewis also added new women’s wear ranges from today based on collaborations with designers. These include lines from Osman Yousefzada, Clements Ribeiro and a 30-piece Fiona Paxton jewelry collection with a 1920s beaded-flapper trend.

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