Virgin nabs Pepe chief to run jeans

Virgin is bringing in Pepe Jeans European marketing director Mark Blenkinsop to oversee the new clothing and denim division of the Branson empire.

Blenkinsop, presently based at Pepe’s European headquarters in Amsterdam, has been recruited to spearhead Virgin’s launch into the UK jeans market.

He will be working on the new Virgin brand in direct competition with Pepe, which holds about 3.8 per cent volume of the UK market according to the latest Nielsen statistics. Levi’s has 25.9 per cent share.

Blenkinsop was appointed as marketing director at Pepe in February 1994, promoted from his previous positions within the jeans company, including marketing manager.

Pepe hit the headlines last year with its controversial “teenage suicide” ads that were investigated by the Independent Television Commission. Blenkinsop was instrumental in choosing agency Leagas Delaney and creating the ads.

Pepe has since moved its European office out of the UK and into Amsterdam (MW April 26).

Meanwhile, Virgin plans to launch a flagship clothing store on London’s Regent Street selling low-cost clothes.

A Virgin spokeswoman denies anyone has been appointed to the new jeans arm. Blenkinsop refused to comment.

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