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. The chain launched its first home decor range in 2018. The family-owned chain has around 250 stores in the UK and franchises the brand in several international markets. A full e-commerce service launched in 2010 in the UK and now delivers to 100 countries, primarily in the EMEA region. For 2016, topline reached a new high of almost £971m, before slipping back to £945m in 2017. Operating profit plunged 40% to £81m. 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. The family continue to control the business through the Lewis Trust Group, which also has extensive property investments. It owns or manages a number of hotels including the Royal Beach and others in Israel, and the Ritz Carlton in Palm Beach, Florida. Combined turnover is in excess of £1bn annually.
Capsule checked 14th January 2019
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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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