May 15, 2017
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Charles Tyrwhitt in Brexit-linked price rise

May 15, 2017

Charles Tyrwhitt is set to raise prices by up to 10% due to higher costs linked to the pound’s plunge after the Brexit vote.

Charles Tyrwhitt

The shirt specialist, whose founder Nick Wheeler is a Brexit supporter, has long traded on its ‘four shirts for £100’ slogan but Wheeler said in an interview that four shirts are now likely to cost around £110.

The company, which originally made shirts in the UK, now outsources to markets where prices are charged in currencies that have risen against the pound such as India, Vietnam and Eastern Europe.

That means input prices have risen around 20% since last June, although the price of shirts is still lower than when the company was launched 30 years ago. Back then a shirt cost £28.50 and the planned price rise will see that going up to £27.50 each for anyone buying four at a time.

However, Wheeler criticised firms that blame the Brexit vote for sales falls. “Retailers will always give reasons why sales aren't growing and invariably they're about anything except the business,” he said. “It'll be Brexit, the weather, the economy and so on - but it doesn't matter what's happening outside, if you're doing a good job inside then you'll do well and keep on growing.”

Wheeler, whose wife Chrissie Rucker founded The White Company, said he still supports the idea of Brexit but remains keen to retain close ties to the EU and European markets.

And he told This Is Money that he would like to manufacture more products in the UK than the current shoes, ties and cufflinks but factories that can handle the volumes he requires no longer exist.

He also said that he expects Brexit to deliver “short-term pain” for the business but to offer long-term advantages.

Wheeler and Rucker have been suggested to have a fortune of over £400m from their combined businesses but he has disputed this telling This Is Money that it is “a made-up number”. He also said he would never sell the company, despite advisers frequently asking when he would be ready to sell. “They just don't understand the entrepreneurial brain - or maybe they don't understand my brain,” he said.
Charles Tyrwhitt saw turnover of £176m in the year to July 2016 and pre-tax profits of £4.4m but Wheeler hopes to reach the £1bn turnover mark at some pojnt.

Wheeler and Rucker recently converted the ownership of their businesses from limited liability companies to a private limited company under a new parent business, which is 50/50 owned by them. However, the two operations are still run separately.

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