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Alliance Becomes Billionaire Selling Plus-Size Clothing

Jan. 31 (Bloomberg) -- Clothes sold by plus-size women’s wear brand Simply Be come in many shapes and sizes, including jeans tailored for ladies with thicker thighs and larger calves. Boots sold under the Jacamo label come equipped with a four inch heel to boost the height of short male customers.

Such specialty items have lured customers to these designers and others owned by N Brown Group Plc, the Internet and catalog home-shopping company whose shares have increased more than 50 percent over the past 12 months. The gain has made David Alliance, the company’s former chairman, a billionaire.

“The general view on N Brown is there’s a significant level of latent potential,” John Stevenson, a London-based retail analyst at Peel Hunt, said by phone. “A big opportunity is the international business its building.”

The company said in a Jan. 16 statement that sales grew 7.2 percent in the six weeks ended Jan. 11, and that it will continue to expand overseas and open 18 new retail outlets.

The 81-year-old Alliance owns 27 percent of the Manchester, England-based business, whose labels include Ambrose Wilson and High & Mighty. He holds an additional 7 percent stake in his name, which is classified as non-beneficial and hasn’t been included in his net worth calculation.

N Brown shares rose 0.4 percent to 542 pence in London trading yesterday, valuing Alliance’s stake at $673 million. His cash holdings and other investments total $350 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The billionaire declined to comment on his net worth.

Iranian Immigrant

Alliance was born in Iran and emigrated to Manchester in 1951, where he started a textile business before diversifying into mail order catalogs in the 1960s.

“I did not arrive with a pot of gold,” he said in an interview with the Independent newspaper in 1994.

By then he’d developed his textile company into thread maker Coats Viyella Plc, which was bought by Guinness Peat Group Plc in 2003. The billionaire is known as Lord Alliance after being elevated to the House of Lords, Parliament’s upper, unelected second chamber in 2004.

The Bloomberg Billionaires Index takes measure of the world’s wealthiest people based on market and economic changes and Bloomberg News reporting. Each net worth figure is updated every business day at 5:30 p.m. in New York and listed in U.S. dollars.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Metcalf in London at tmetcalf7@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Matthew G. Miller at mmiller144@bloomberg.net

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