Henri Lloyd wants to expand its business in Europe. In the focus: Germany. The UK brand has big plans in the pipeline and wants to grow via a mix of own retail and independent stores. Adam Leebetter International Brand Manager of Henri Lloyd explained why.
You want to expand in Germany. What’s the strategy for expansion here?
We know from our years of industry experience, that you cannot just take your brand to a market and expect it to be a success. We have been discussing the launch into Germany for some time. We have taken time to choose the agents we have in the market, agents that understand our operation and what it is like to work for a family run business over a corporation. We have an agency in the North and one in the South and we will now support them and the retailers they bring in, to help develop our brand naturally and progressively. We’re a family run business and have been established for over 50 years, so this is not all about selling high volumes but creating fans for our brand. We want to grow with the right people in the right places in partnership.
Do you also want to open stores or concessions?
Absolutely, but we are not planning this immediately and will let the market develop before we plan this side of the operation.
How important is retail for you compared to the classical wholesale?
We are happy to be thriving in retail, but in many countries the focus is the independent sector. The issue of the financial impact on all our markets has made everyone look again at their business plans. What you now find is that the stores that are still in operation are there because their customers want them to be there, they have continued to support them through this time and for us these are the customers we want to be wearing our brand. So we will continue to focus on and support the independent sector, as without these businesses, we will become like many international markets, a country of super malls and shopping centers. There is nothing better than finding a retailer in a small town in any country, they generally have a passion for clothing and if they are buying your collections, they buy out of appreciation and belief in the brand and not just what is on trend. This is why they have survived; their customers want to buy from them because of it.
Our aim is to continue to explore, develop and open new stores and concessions across all markets, but this will only be done in areas that will not affect the independents we are working with.
What are the main markets of the brand? Where do you see potential?
The biggest area of our business is within the UK and Scandinavia. This is where we have been established the longest and where the brand is most recognized. That said we have a very strong business in Italy as it is almost classed as the birth place of our lifestyle collection. With regards to new potential markets, it’s here in Germany, but also France and Spain. We have had good Marine operations in these markets for some time but it’s now time to develop our Lifestyle & Sportswear area of our business to drive real success in these market places.
Are there any plans for new openings internationally?
This has become a big focus of ours and having learnt the good and the bad of retail since opening our first retail store in 2000, we now have a successful model that we have used to develop the opportunity with our international franchise partners. On the back of the 36 stores internationally, we have just opened one new store in St Tropez, and a store in Bratislava, Slovakia this July. We opened two stand alone Women’s concessions (on the back of 24 Men’s) in the UK with House of Fraser earlier in the year, this was a first for us but the success of this means we will likely grow this wider over the coming months. We also opened a technical shop in shop within Harrods in March, so you could say this area is becoming more important, and a natural growth area for us.
What’s the USP of the brand? What distinguishes it from others?
Henri Lloyd has stayed true to its core vision since day one. Sure, the look and feel of our products has evolved. Our marketing and development techniques have improved, but in regards to who we are as a company, our USP is that we are still very much true to our roots and to my mind, that sets us apart from other globally renowned brands in our industry. As an independent, family owned business, the fact remains that we have full control and visibility on what we design, produce and put to market, making our approach a more personal mission to deliver on quality.
The brand has a sailing sports background. How important are these roots still for the Henri Lloyd brand in terms of turnover, positioning and designing?
Without the Marine and Sports background the brand may not be here today. The early designs and innovations developed by Mr Henri in the 1960’s have established some of the industry standards all clothing brands use today. Mr Henri was the first person to use hand taped seaming to create 100% waterproof clothing. The first person to use Non Corrosive zips and Velcro as a safety feature on clothing, everything so he could save lives at sea. Without these foundations many brands, not only ours, may not have been doing what we do today, so yes this is a pivotal part of the business and its heritage. This still continues to date, with new awards and industry first’s in fabrications and design.