Sosandar chairman Bill Murray dies aged 58: Business leader who helped retailer become one of Britain’s fastest-growing fashion brands
- Murray had been chairman of the womenswear merchant since January 2016
- Sosandar achieved nearly £30m in revenues during the last full financial year
- The Cheshire-based group recently revealed record quarterly sales of £11.6m
Growth: During Murray’s chairmanship of Sosandar, the firm became one of the UK’s fastest-growing fashion brands
Fashion brand Sosandar has paid tribute to its chairman Bill Murray, who has died aged 58.
Murray had been non-executive chairman of the womenswear brand since January 2016, having first begun working with the company two years previously.
He helped founders Ali Hall and Julie Lavington ‘with fundraising and numerous aspects of bringing the business to life’ after the pair quit their jobs at the fashion magazine Look, according to Sosandar’s website.
During his tenure, the firm went from selling less than 100 garments out of Hall’s spare room to becoming one of the UK’s fastest-growing fashion brands, with nearly £30million in annual sales.
Primarily aimed at the over-30s market, the retailer counts television presenters Holly Willoughby, Fearne Cotton, Susanna Reid and Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden among its celebrity customers.
Revenues received a further boost from the group forging partnerships with some of Britain’s most famous retailers, including Next, John Lewis, and Marks & Spencer.
Sainsbury’s also recently reached an agreement to stock a number of Sosandar’s curated collections, initially on a digital-only basis, before being sold in some outlets later this year.
The Wilmslow-based company revealed record sales of £11.6million and its fifth successive quarter of profitability for the three months ending December, following strong demand for higher-priced items.
It noted that all product categories sold well, but there was particularly strong demand for partywear coats and formal tailoring during the Christmas season.
In a statement to investors, Hall and Lavington said that Murray had ‘left a lasting legacy to the business, and his dedication and commitment to the success and growth of Sosandar will be deeply missed’.
The founders added: ‘Our thoughts and condolences to Bill’s family and loved ones during this terribly difficult and sad time.’
As well as being chairman of Sosandar, Murray held the same role at the Hollins Murray Group, a commercial property business based in Cheshire that his great-grandfather founded.
He was also a director at Paragraph Publishing, whose portfolio includes magazines centred on the drinks, travel and hospitality industries, software firm TrackBack, and the UK Online Management trade body.
Prior to those appointments, he spent more than two decades at Haymarket Media Group, the owner of What Car? and Autocar magazines, where he rose to become managing director of the publisher’s digital businesses.