U.K. CEO Reflects On The Brand’s Overseas Direction
As one of the mainland’s widely-recognized brands, retailer Bosideng initially made its name with mass-market, down-filled outerwear before expanding into a full menswear line and other apparel. While international luxury conglomerates have made China a primary focus of their expansion plans, Bosideng took the opposite approach, looking to burnish its brand by establishing a prestige presence abroad. Last July, the company opened its first overseas flagship: a 1,600-square-meter store on the West End’s tony South Molton Street. As a key part of this strategy, Bosideng introduced an entirely new retail line: a premium menswear brand targeted to a European clientele.
As the London flagship heads toward its one-year anniversary, Jing Daily caught up with Wayne Zhu, CEO of Bosideng U.K., for a conversation about the brand’s overseas direction, its U.K. designers, and its future plans.
With more than 11,000 retail outlets in China, what does the London location bring to Bosideng’s portfolio?
The London store is Bosideng’s first flagship store outside mainland China. It not only houses the unique Bosideng London collection, which has been designed and manufactured exclusively for European customers, but it also provides Bosideng with first-hand experience of the retail audience. Both are of vital importance in Bosideng’s development of a more diverse and better-received retail portfolio.
Bosideng’s expansion into London was a huge step for the company and for Chinese brands in general. How would you compare the reception in 2012 and now, almost a year later?
We continue to receive a lot of attention and media coverage. However, the press has shifted from the store’s opening and the initial collection to focus more on the marketing surrounding the brand along with its future growth plan, both in the U.K. and the rest of the world.
Among regular customers, the feedback on the product quality and service is all very positive. Brand awareness has certainly improved and we have seen consumers return for new season products, which is very encouraging.
We are also teaming up with college students who use the London store as a case study for fashion and marketing issues.
Bosideng adopted an upmarket strategy in London. Has the brand been successful in moving toward this direction?
Every customer who has visited our store or purchased a product has recognized the brand and the quality, and these customers are in no doubt that Bosideng London is a premium brand. In this sense we have had initial success in our upmarket strategy. This next stage is to greatly improve the brand awareness, with tailored marketing that will increase our reach to improve both footfall in-store and traffic through our e-commerce site.
Who would you say are your top customers and what products are selling the best?
The top shoppers are 35+ mature men who are fashion-conscious, with good disposable income. The best-selling products for AW12 were a classic overcoat in formal wear and a down jacket in casual wear.
With Nick Holland and Ash Gangotra as head designers, how has the brand’s aesthetic changed? Why was it important for the brand to pull British designers on board?
It is very important to have input from local designers who know the market trends and customer tastes. We made a point of this from the beginning to ensure that our London collection is tailored to our target market. In comparison to Bosideng products in China, the style, color, fabric, design detail, and measurements all had to be changed to appeal to a European audience. They are basically two totally different markets.
How are plans for the Manhattan location shaping up? Is Bosideng planning to expand elsewhere after London?
In 2013 Bosideng London will focus on expanding by means of e-commerce and potential concessions within premium department stores. Of course, if the board of Bosideng in China decides to expand into New York or other European cities, we will provide support as appropriate. That expansion plan is something that is being made at board level.