Cotton Traders buys shares from Next
Cotton Traders, the leisurewear retailer founded by former England rugby union players Fran Cotton and Steve Smith, is now back under the full control of its founders.
The directors have acquired the stake previously owned by retail giant Next and now plan to invest in the expansion of the Altrincham-based business.
Next had owned a 33 per cent stake in Cotton Traders, which was founded in 1987, since 1997. These shares have now been acquired by the business, giving it full control of the company.
Fran Cotton said Next's understanding of home shopping was the reason for its investment in the company.
"At the time the banks were only interested in cash or assets, things like mailing lists didn’t appeal to them ― so we decided to look at investors who shared our vision," he said. "In July we were in a position to buy them back."
The team now plans to invest in the business to reach new markets and grow internationally, with Australia one of its targets. It also wants to launch on Amazon next year and establish click and collect services.
"We're developing into an omni-channel retailer, with multi-national reach," Cotton said.
"We have a very strong catalogue and internet business and they’re totally integrated ― for us it’s very important to deliver a fantastic customer experience, no matter how people are getting in touch.
"Internet shopping now makes up 50 per cent of our business ― and 46 per cent of those orders are made from tablets. That's happened in the last three years.
"Our customer age profile is 50 - 75 and these people are keener than ever to do things online, and we need to respond to that."
Cotton Traders posted turnover of £80.3m for the 53 weeks to 1 February 2014 and a pre-tax profit of £6.5m.