River Island is among the UK's leading high street fashion chains, selling a very broad range of stylish but low-priced clothing, mainly targeting middle-market men and women in the 18-30 age range. Although the majority of stock carries the main River Island brand, the group has launched a couple of additional brands, such as Holloway Rd menswear and the Chelsea Girl label for young women, relaunched in 2011. River Island Mini is a line of children's clothing. In 2013, singer Rihanna, reportedly a longtime fan of the store's clothing, launched her own signature range through River Island in a year-long partnership. The chain launched its first home decor range in 2018. The family-owned business has around 260 stores in the UK and Ireland, additional operations in the Netherlands and Sweden, and it franchises the brand in a few other international markets. A full e-commerce service launched in 2010 in the UK and now delivers to 100 countries, primarily in the EMEA region but also the US. The chain also sells through third-party sites including Very and ASOS. Revenues for parent company River Island Holdings Ltd peaked in 2016 at almost £971m, but have been under pressure since then, slipping back for three consecutive years, to £880m in 2019. Around 85% of revenue was generated in the UK. Operating profit, too, has plunged as a result of investment in technology and back-end services. The figure for 2019 was £21m, with net profit of just £1.6m. Results for 2020 will be impacted significantly by enforced closure of all stores during the Covid pandemic. The business was founded in 1964 by Bernard Lewis under the name Chelsea Girl, cashing in on the international appeal of "Swinging London". The chain did well for several years, but by the 1980s had been eclipsed by a new breed of fashion retailers led by Next. In 1988, management of the business passed to Bernard's son, Leonard Lewis, who successfully relaunched the chain under the new name of River Island. Ben Lewis, the founder's nephew, was appointed as chief executive in 2010, but stepped down in 2019, to be replaced by non-family member Will Kernan. The family continue to control the business through the Lewis Trust Group, which also has extensive investments in property, hotels & lesiure and consumer fashion. Combined turnover plunged from over £3.7bn in 2018 to under £2.0bn in 2019. These investments are managed through private equity division Blue Coast Capital. It owns or manages a number of hotels including the Royal Beach and others in Israel, the Eau Palm Beach in Florida and Marriott Bonvoy in Hamburg, Germany.
Capsule checked 19th May 2021
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Who are the competitors of River Island? Main competitors include Marks & Spencer, Arcadia Group, Asda, Next, Debenhams, Matalan, New Look, Gap, H&M and French Connection. See Retailing Sector and Clothing Sector for other companies
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