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New C&M analysis: Personal Accessories (United Kingdom) Radley & Co Ltd Company Profile
Radley & Co Ltd in Personal Accessories (United Kingdom) - a new company profile report on 2014-03-18 22:00:04
Radley is a British brand which designs and manufactures handbags. The company was founded by Lowell Harder in 1998. Harder had previously sold Hidesign, from a market stall in Camden in 1984 and as this grew more into a fully fledged business, she developed Radley. Radley was an attempt to bring a bit of fun back into the world of accessories. Initially there was little take up for the Radley brand, retailer John Lewis decided to give it a go, as they had already a good working relationship with Harder through the selling of Hidesign. Working with John Lewis Harder needed more resources which resulted in a partnership with fellow bag company Tula. In 2003, Harder led a buyout of the parent company with the entirely company being rebranded to Radley, which was what the lines were previously called. The majority stake of the company was sold for £130 million in 2007. It is known for using a Scottish Terrier as its emblem.. In a tough retail environment, and with it not being such a dynamic market in general, it is perhaps no surprise that personal accessories continued to decline in volume terms for the sixth consecutive year, and increased at a slower rate in current value terms in 2013 than in 2012. This indicates that unit prices are generally increasing, largely thanks to the strong performance of the luxury segment and rising commodity prices. Bags and luggage saw by far the strongest performance, being the only one of the four categories in personal accessories to record volume growth in 2013.

A recurrent trend across all four categories was the polarisation of the market, as the top-end, particularly fuelled by luxury and designer goods, continued to be almost unaffected by the general economic circumstances, whilst at the bottom-end, consumers were looking for ever cheaper and purely functional goods, with little attention paid to design or quality. This was true in pens, watches, costume jewellery and bags, and throughout there was a serious knock-on effect on the leaders, which generally occupy the middle ground, and on the middle-market retailers, normally concentrated on the high street. The luxury segment was a stand-out performer, which meant that unit prices generally continued rising.

The personal accessories market is too diverse and specialised to have any leaders across the board. The major players in personal accessories which have overlying brands tend to be in the luxury segment, where there is significant crossover between watches, jewellery, bags and fountain pens, for example. These companies, although not the leaders in personal accessories overall, generally performed strongly in the review period, as the luxury segment in the UK was not particularly badly affected by the recession. In the middle, the polarisation of the market led to significant declines for some of the more traditional players who were stuck in the middle, unable to compete with luxury products, but unwilling to compromise their brands by cutting prices too drastically.

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