River Island’s Harpenne brand permanently closes - Just Style
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River Island’s Harpenne brand permanently closes

By Beth Wright 17 Apr 2020

Online clothing brand Harpenne, which is owned by UK high street retailer River Island, has permanently closed less than a year after its launch. 

Online clothing brand Harpenne, which is owned by UK high street retailer River Island, has permanently closed less than a year after its launch. 

“The UK retail backdrop continues to be challenging, and this is clearly not an easy time to create and grow a new brand,” a River Island Holdings spokesperson told just-style. “Whilst we have taken many valuable learnings from the launch of Harpenne, we have made the decision to focus on the more established parts of our portfolio.”

It is understood that while the Harpenne website has closed, the brand is still available from retailers John Lewis and Next.

Sofie Willmott, lead analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, notes the brand has been finished off by Covid-19 before it had a chance to get going.

“With well-established clothing brands including Oasis, Warehouse, Cath Kidston and Laura Ashley already victims of the Covid-19 crisis, their smaller and lesser-known equivalents are under immense pressure and are at risk of not surviving the next few months as demand for clothing and footwear continues to plummet.”

Department store group Debenhams also fell into administration earlier this month, while UK-based fashion and accessories retailer Monsoon Accessorize has also said it is weighing up options to secure the business’s future.

“Operating as an online pureplay as well as stocking its range on Next and John Lewis & Partners’ sites, Harpenne’s closure is evidence that selling via the online channel is not enough to safeguard retailers,” Willmott adds.

“Although online clothing and footwear spend will be better protected as non-essential stores remain closed, we still expect it to decline 7.9% this year when retailers have previously been able to rely on digital channels for growth.” 

Preliminary forecasts by GlobalData suggest clothing and footwear are expected to be the worst hit UK retail sector this year – with spend set to fall by over 20%.

News of Harpenne’s closure comes as River Island has reoponed its online operations after rolling out new systems and safety measures at its warehouse. In a statement on its website, the company says it is now beginning to despatch orders to the UK and Ireland.