Mark Cross is looking outside the U.S. as a means to grow its business during the coronavirus crisis. The accessories company — which relies on the U.S. for half its global sales — will now aggressively push forward with pre-existing plans to grow its international presence due to the continued economic fallout in the U.S. from the virus.
The brand has already seen marked response from its international push — one year ago the U.S. represented 60 percent of global sales, according to president and chief executive officer Ulrik Garde Due. Currently, he said that Mark Cross is 40 to 45 percent off its 2020 target sales projections as a result of COVID-19.
Mark Cross was revived from dormancy in 2011. Originally known as a midcentury leather goods company that made classic bags for women including Grace Kelly, its handcrafted product and ladylike styles — including its box-shape “Grace” bag — have found a following among luxury clients and trendsetters. But Garde Due says there is exponential room for international growth.
“In our strategic roadmap, I’m foreseeing that we would almost split the world into three — one third U.S. sales, one third EU and Middle East and one third in Asia,” he said of the company’s ideal global ratios.
Presently, Europe accounts for 25 to 30 percent of Mark Cross’ international sales, while the bulk of international transactions come from Asia — namely Japan, with additional strongholds in Greater China and South Korea.
This summer, the brand is taking its message on the road by staging a number of pop-up shops in key stores around the world, with a concept called “The World of Mark Cross.” This past weekend, the brand launched a pop-up with Lane Crawford in Hong Kong, which will be followed by residencies at the retailer’s Chengdu and Shanghai locations. The concept will then travel to South Korea, with pop-ups at Boon the Shop and Shinsegae, and then head to the U.K. this fall, with Mark Cross’ men’s collection landing at Selfridges.
Each pop-up will display vintage product to convey Mark Cross’ rich history to consumers who are unfamiliar with the brand. Bespoke services will be available, and the entire concept has been organized with sustainability in mind — display structures will be reused in all Mark Cross pop-ups thereafter.
“The U.S. is our home market and is still very important for us and we have great opportunity going forward in the U.S. by continuously investing in that market. But with Asia and other parts of world having shown signs of recovery faster after COVID-19, we are putting a lot of effort in developing partners there,” said Garde Due. “We expect high, double-digit growth in Asia with the investment we are putting.”
In the U.S. market, Mark Cross will now begin to focus on its e-commerce channel, which has shown a 27 percent spike above original projections as a result of the pandemic. Without tourists shopping and most Upper East Side luxury shoppers spending their summer out of New York City, Mark Cross’ Madison Avenue flagship, which opened in November 2019, will remain closed until at least September.
“I think you have to put travel retail on hold, it has come to a complete halt. What we are doing instead is focusing on domestic shopping. We will be doing pop-ups in the U.S. targeting different destinations where we believe people are spending part of COVID-19,” Garde Due said.
Mark Cross is currently planning a pop-up with the Surf Lodge in Montauk and is in discussions with other Hamptons locations, as well as with retailers in Florida.