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Esprit Out, New Brand In

Thursday April 26, 2001

For twenty years the Lewis Group, as Esprit NZ, has represented the Esprit label in the New Zealand market. Esprit International has now severed that relationship because of changes to its global sales and marketing strategy. It is taking back control of the distribution of Esprit products in this country from July1st, 2001.

The Lewis Group deeply regrets Esprit International’s decision. However, as far as the Lewis Group’s highly successful retail stores in New Zealand are concerned, the company is very definitely staying in the clothing business.

Over two decades the Lewis Group has built up a network of 23 stores throughout the country. “Dismantling the efforts of 150 dedicated staff and walking away from our lease commitments is clearly not an option”, says Managing Director David Lewis.

“Accordingly, we will soon be launching an entirely new and exciting brand from our established retail stores around New Zealand”, says Mr Lewis. “We will continue to offer the same high standards and quality service our customers have come to expect from us”.

The company plans to release details of its new brand shortly.

In the meantime, it will be business as usual in its stores. Fall and Winter ranges continue to be delivered. David Lewis says, “We are committed to handing back the Esprit licence in good shape to Esprit International and look forward to unveiling the new brand nationwide in July”.

For further details contact Janet Wilson
(09) 361 3028 (business) 021 605551 (mobile) email


The rag trade has been in the Lewis blood for generations. David’s grandfather was a bespoke tailor in London before he moved to New Zealand and founded Fashions Ltd in Wellington in 1926.

David’s father Bill and uncle Tony, both noted figures in this country’s rag trade, continued to run the company which listed on the New Zealand stock exchange in 1965.

In 1979 the company, now known as the Lewis Group, entered into a franchising agreement with Esprit International, marketing and retailing the brand in New Zealand.

Around this time David Lewis, who had finished a Diploma in Apparel, Technology and Administration and another from the New Zealand Institute of Management, was involved in the technical side of the Lewis Group.

He began working directly with the Esprit label in 1985 and bought a fifty percent share of the business involving the Esprit franchise in 1990. That share subsequently increased to 75% on the death of his father in 1998.

Over the years David Lewis has also had significant interests in brands such as Nautica and Sportscraft.

He is currently Managing Director of the Lewis Group (which is again a private company following a share buy back in 1981) and is now working on retail arrangements for a new brand following the end of his company’s relationship with Esprit International.

CONTACT: Janet Wilson 021 605551 (mob), 09 3613028 (bus), 09 376 1645 (home)

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