At the beginning of the year, the UNIFA Group acquired 100% of True Religion Brand Jeans Germany GmbH. Based in Düsseldorf, the company has been a 40% joint-venture partner of the American premium denim brand True Religion Apparel Inc. since 2010 and is now responsible for all sales and retail businesses in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Benelux countries.
The sole owner is UNIFA under CEO Reinhard Haase, who is now presenting the premium denim label under the umbrella of UNIFA Premium GmbH as TRBJ Germany GmbH.
By mainly manufacturing in Europe, we no longer have issues with the fluctuating dollar price, the customs and denim punitive duties or the high cargo costs, so we are able to stay at our prices consistently.
True Religion has been successfully distributed by UNIFA since 2004. In 2007 it began being led by specially founded UNIFA Premium GmbH, before it came to the joint venture. In 2015, Reinhard Haase received a license for all True Religion non-denim products as well as for a capsule denim collection, which GURU Denim Inc. will offer True Religion Brand Jeans globally in the future.
True Religion currently serves around 250 retailers. These include names such as KaDeWe, the Breuninger Group, Zalando, JADES24, as well as Different and Staudinger in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.We spoke to Haase about the brand’s advantages and sales strategy.
At the beginning of 2017, the UNIFA Group acquired 100% of True Religion Brand Jeans Germany GmbH. What was the reason behind this decision?
The acquisition gives us greater flexibility. We can act differently/better in the wholesale area and therefore are even closer to the customer. Of course, we also take advantage of the synergies we have with the UNIFA Group.
You announced a new price structure, which among other things will be reflected in the licensed collections. Exactly on which end of the scale can this new price structure be found–top or bottom–and what does this development mean for retailers?
The licensed collection makes it easier to calculate better and more "customer-friendly" retail prices. By mainly manufacturing in Europe, we no longer have issues with the fluctuating dollar price, the customs and denim punitive duties or the high cargo costs, so we are able to stay at our prices consistently. This means that, for example, we can offer our premium denim with a good margin for retailers within the range of €179 to €219 max. as the suggested retail price. Furthermore, we are able to react more quickly to repeat orders in certain amounts and re-produce accordingly.
"[...] we are able to react more quickly to repeat orders."
What will the cooperation with the US parent company True Religion look like in the future? Which synergies do you expect from the new agreement?
Everything will remain the same. We will continue to offer the USA products in our assortment and the GURU Denim Inc. True Religion Brand Jeans will offer our licensed collection globally.
How is True Religion currently positioned? And what are your medium-term goals for the brand?
Of course, we will continue to expand our product range from season to season. Currently our collection features denim, outerwear, knitwear, sportswear as well as ready-to-wear styles with dresses, blouses and tops. Contrary to the USA, our focus lies on the wholesale business. Through new partners in the sales area, we are expanding our network for DACH and Benelux to be closer to the customer. We are now working with the Belgian agency Fashion Club 70 for the Benelux countries. Our longtime partner Tradingpool has now taken over the regions of Austria and Switzerland in addition to Southern Germany, and since December we have been working together with the agency Augustin and Eichhorn Distribution for Northern Germany.