Rigby & Peller has crossed the pond.
This week the U.K.-based intimate apparel retailer has taken over 13 Intimacy locations in the U.S. The Belgian luxury lingerie company Van de Velde owns both companies.
Intimacy, a multibrand intimate apparel store known for its fit consultations, was founded by Susan Nethero in 1992. Nethero, who was nicknamed “The Bra Whisperer,” opened her first Intimacy store in Atlanta and rose to fame after she appeared on “Oprah” in 2005. Shortly after her appearance, where she extolled the power of a proper fitting bra, Nethero opened additional Intimacy stores throughout the U.S.
Van de Velde acquired a minority stake in Intimacy in 2007 before purchasing 85 percent of the business in 2010 for $13.5 million.
After the acquisition, Intimacy increased its retail footprint throughout the U.S. but it continued to lose money.
This past August, Van de Velde reported that Intimacy’s retail turnover declined by 4.7 percent (10.3 percent on a like-for-like basis) for the first half of 2015. Nethero, who couldn’t be reached for comment, is no longer involved in the business.
Van de Velde, which also owns lingerie brands Marie Jo, Primadonna and Andres Sarda, is hoping to turn its U.S. business around with the re-branding.
“The Rigby & Peller brand has resonated with British women for more than 75 years and has become a popular household name among them,” said Dirk De Vos, director of retail at Van de Velde. “Since both brands are owned by Van de Velde, now seemed like the perfect time to expand Rigby & Peller, making it a truly global brand.”
Rigby & Peller was founded in 1938 by Gita Peller and Bertha Rigby. June and Harold Kenton purchased the business in 1982. It holds the Royal Warrant of Appointment, which means June is Queen Elizabeth II’s official bra fitter. Rigby & Peller currently has stores in the U.K., China, Germany, Denmark and Hong Kong.
According to De Vos, Rigby & Peller’s concept targets a wider variety of customers than Intimacy’s did — it caters to average and fuller bust sizes — and it offers a larger breadth of services that include bra fittings and personalized styling for lingerie, nightwear and swimwear. The store carries brands including Simone Perele, Primadonna, Empreinte, Marie Jo, Stella McCartney, On Gossamer and Le Chat. Many of these vendors are exclusive to Rigby & Peller in the U.S.
Holly Bocock, head of marketing and public relations at Rigby & Peller, said the store is also known for its collections that change seasonally.
“We have a great core collection, but we have a lot of fashion product that changes with the trends,” said Bocock.
For now there are no plans to extend Rigby & Peller’s U.S. presence beyond these 13 stores. De Vos, who noted that Van de Velde also operates an international wholesale business, didn’t disclose regional sales figures for the U.S., but he hopes this change will increase its position as a global retail brand.