LONDON — Mary-Adair Macaire is ready to breathe new life into Pringle.
This story first appeared in the June 8, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The new chief executive officer, who took up her post last September after spending her career at Chanel, told WWD her chief aims are to honor Pringle’s heritage while keeping the brand relevant, fine-tune distribution and better communicate with wholesale and retail customers.
One of her first moves is to pull the brand out of Milan and return to London Fashion Week for its 25th anniversary celebrations in September. Pringle, which is also returning to mark its own 195th anniversary year, will likely remain a fixture on the LFW calendar in future seasons.
“It made sense that if we are a British brand and our history is here, then we should be showing in London,” said Macaire during an interview with Pringle’s creative director, Claire Waight Keller.
Pringle joins Burberry and Matthew Williamson in returning to London to mark the big anniversary. The brand will show during the latter part of the week at a venue to be determined.
Macaire, a Pennsylvania native who was formerly Chanel’s global marketing director responsible for ready to wear, costume jewelry and accessories, has also been working with Waight Keller to reshape the brand’s ads, making the mood more sensual and feminine.
“It felt like the time for a new approach, and we wanted to bring in a different mood — one of sensuality and delicacy, with sultry undertones,” said Waight Keller.
The fall ads were photographed for the first time by Fabien Baron, who has been working on Pringle campaigns for years as artistic director. The black-and-white campaign was shot in a studio under natural light and features models Karlie Kloss and Mark Cox.
“It felt like the time for a new approach, and we wanted to bring in a different mood — one of sensuality and delicacy, with sultry undertones,” said Waight Keller. The campaign will break in the September issues of American and international editions of Vogue.
There are other changes afoot: Macaire has named Benoit Duverger as Pringle’s director of global communications. Duverger, who will take up his post June 15, will also be responsible for the brand’s media buy and report to Macaire. He is creative director of brand communications at Puma AG and has worked for companies including Jil Sander.
Macaire has also named Andrew Wright as director of global sales. Wright was previously vice president of international wholesale at Bamford & Sons and has held management posts at Harry’s of London and Polo Ralph Lauren footwear and women’s accessories. He began work last month, and also reports to the chief executive officer.
Pringle has been in need of strong leadership since Kim Winser’s departure at the end of 2005. In the five years she was at the brand, Winser transformed Pringle from a British golf and knitwear company to a luxury brand selling at stores including Saks Fifth Avenue.
Douglas Fang, a member of the family that owns Pringle, replaced Winser and during his tenure the company lost some of its momentum. Last year, Pringle closed its factory in Hawick, Scotland, and it now relies on external production facilities there. Earlier this year, a net total of five staff were let go from the company.
Pringle’s latest financial filings, for the year ending March 29, show a decline in sales to 17.7 million pounds, or $35.4 million, from 19.5 million pounds, or $39 million. The company posted a loss of 9.5 million pounds, or $19 million — slightly less than the previous year’s loss. All figures have been converted at average exchange rates for the period.
Macaire said she believes the time is right for Pringle, which embodies “craftsmanship and value for investment,” and added she wants to get that message of a dynamic heritage brand across to customers. She plans to revamp the distribution strategy, refurbishing Pringle’s two London stores over the next few months, and fine-tune the wholesale strategy. Macaire added new stand-alone stores are in the pipeline, and that New York and Paris are among her top choice locations.
“Pringle is an opportunity waiting to happen. We have the smallest distribution in our market, and until now we’ve been very quiet about what we do and about the talent behind us,” she said. “We need to be better partners and to send a clear and consistent message to our wholesale clients and customers about who we are.”