River Island Premium Page

With over 60 years of fashion retailing experience, River Island is one of the most well-known and loved brands on the High Street

River Island Premium Page

With over 60 years of fashion retailing experience, River Island is one of the most well-known and loved brands on the High Street

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River Island: Evolving Entrepreneurship

River Island: Evolving Entrepreneurship

LONDON, United Kingdom — The Lewis family began their clothing business by selling knitting wool alongside fruit and vegetables on a market stool in a Blitz-damaged North London in 1948. As the first fashion retailer in the UK to target the teenage market, and one of the first fashion chains to deal with global garment suppliers directly, the family has a history of innovation across three brands: Lewis Separates, Chelsea Girl and River Island, the last of which was founded in 1988. Today, the River Island retail brand has a network of over 300 stores, 40 of which are located overseas in Continental Europe, the Middle East and Australia.

The driving theme of this more than 60 year history is a culture of entrepreneurship and a commitment to innovation, making River Island a market leader at home and abroad. The brand’s near-900 head-office employees work on an expansive open-plan site, which includes a mocked up store, in-house production capabilities, design, buying, merchandising, marketing, operations and digital teams. The space is purposefully designed to foster the exchange of ideas between individuals — from all areas and levels of the organisation.

BoF sat down with chief executive Ben Lewis to learn more.

How would you define River Island’s DNA today?

It’s a family business, and I think that helps in terms of how we run the business, how we plan the business and the culture of the business. We can think long term and make decisions that are right for the business in terms of its commercial sustainability and growth. At the same time we are very happy to experiment; in fact we see it as a key part of our DNA to try new things.

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