Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Irrepressible Rise of Reiss; David Reiss, a Little-Known Tailor's Son, Is Poised to Beat Stuart Rose and Philip Green to a Truly Global British Brand Wiht 250 Stores Worldwide

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Irrepressible Rise of Reiss; David Reiss, a Little-Known Tailor's Son, Is Poised to Beat Stuart Rose and Philip Green to a Truly Global British Brand Wiht 250 Stores Worldwide

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID HAYES

THE FRONTAGE of the new Reiss flagship store in Vigo Street, just off Regent Street, boasts a huge 5.8mhigh wall of glass, behind which its vast interior houses both men's and women's collections on one level. To add to the impact, a central chandelier made up of 609 glass droplets is suspended from the unflinchingly modernist concrete and steel structure.

The label's owner, David Reiss - in a sharp grey suit, immaculate white shirt and deep tan - cuts a similarly impressive figure. Stuart Rose may be the man who has saved M&S, and Philip Green has a massive chunk of the British high street to his name, but it is the relatively unknown Reiss who has been the first to forge a truly global British fashion brand.

"We have gone from 15 stores to 45 in a matter of a few years," says Reiss over a cappuccino at Cecconi's, just around the corner from what he calls his new "statement" store.

"There are six more stores opening in the United States this year, which makes a total of seven with the New York f lagship, and we have signed up for 40 more stores with a franchising partner in Scandinavia, the Far East and Dubai, which brings us up to 90. Since we got our act together with womenswear it has just mushroomed really. The plan is to have 250 stores worldwide over the next few years."

It all adds up to heady stuff indeed, especially in a global economic climate that is not exactly healthy. "All you read about when you open a newspaper is doom and gloom," says Reiss. "I admire anyone who is successful in the market because they must be doing something special. I know what a tough environment it is around the world. They have to have a vision to succeed."

Does Reiss have the vision to succeed globally? Certainly his recent performance is noteworthy. The stores' likefor-like sales have increased by 20 per cent in the past six months alone.

Sales in 2006 are projected to be [pounds sterling]65 million, with an operating profit of [pounds sterling]10 million. With no shareholders or board of directors to answer to, Reiss has total control to see his plans through, right down to the smallest of details. " We are one of the few private retailers left," he says, sharing the credit with his close-knit team. "The great thing is that we are doing all this with our own resources."

Success like this doesn't come overnight. Reiss has worked in the fashion business for 30 years to get where he is today. He is coy about his age - when pushed he admits only to being in his fifties.

Born in north London as the son of a tailor, Reiss was educated at Carmel College, a private school in Oxfordshire. He now lives in Hampstead, with his wife Rosemary, and supports Arsenal. The couple have three grownup children, Deborah, Ali and Darren, none of whom has any interest in working in the business.

"It is very important that they have a level of independence and if that's what they choose, I have to respect that," he says. Unlike his own children, Reiss's career was strongly influenced by his parents, particularly his father, who owned a tailoring shop in Bishopsgate in the City.

" I've always had that entrepreneurial spirit," he says. "I was very young when I started. I had always been interested in fashion so when I left college I worked as an agent for a couple of fashion companies. I was doing so well for other people that I thought why not do the same for myself ?"

Reiss went into partnership with a friend and set up a shirt manufacturing business, where he learned the business the hard way. "You find out the pitfalls, the day-today issues," he says. "Like when the heating doesn't work and the staff walk out."

When Reiss's father died in 1975 it seemed only natural for him take over the family business. "I got together with the landlord straight away and negotiated taking over the shop next door. I turned it into a contemporary men's fashion store, which was quite innovative in those days. …

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