End of the stylish line for Oi Polloi?

Oi Polloi, Manchester icon

Iconic Manchester menswear store Oi Polloi is expected to close and be rebranded by owner JD Sports.

News has prompted an outpouring of emotions, notably from former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher who posted on Twitter: “Oi Polloi closing down noooooooooooooooo ffs there is no GOD.”

The move follows JD’s closure of Wellgosh in Leicester and Nottingham last week after 35 years as a menswear staple in the East Midlands, which is likely to be branded as a Size? store, which JD considers to be an edgy street brand. 

When contacted by TheBusinessDesk.com for comment on the prospects for Oi Polloi following Wellgosh’s demise last week JD said: “The company has nothing to add on Oi Polloi”. 

Fashion industry news service Drapers Online is also reporting that Oi Polloi founders Steve Sanderson and Nigel Lawson “have considered approaching JD Sports for a possible buy out”, but JD wants to keep the Northern Quarter location and global customer base.

However, JD’s long-term strategy, revealed by chief executive Régis Schultz on the 2nd of February is to “become the leading global sports-powerhouse with significant growth opportunities in international markets of North America and Europe, including Germany, France and Italy and now boasts 3,400 across 35 territories.”

The key brands, which account for 90% of total revenue include JD, Shoe Palace and DTLR, Sprinter and Sport Zone, Go Outdoors, Sizeer / 50 Styles, Size? and Footpatrol.

Last year JD announced it was jettisoning a whole cluster to brands to arch rival Frasers, owned by Mike Ashley. These included Pretty Green, Scotts and Tessutti, in a similar space in the casual menswear market.

As reported in TheBusinessDesk.com JD bought Oi Polloi in May 2021, but there has been no discernible difference to the look and feel of the highly stylish store and its content rich website selling brands like CP Company, Mephisto, New Balance and Universal Works, as well as their own Cottonpolis brand, and collaborations with French shoe marque Mephisto.

Under the founders an attempt to grow the retail brand in London in 2016 proved a step too far, and a West End store lasted just three years, but the online reach was a substantial part of the business.