LONDON — Peter Ruis, the former chief executive officer of British retail chain Jigsaw, has been named managing director of Anthropologie International as part of a company reorganization, and discussed the brand’s strategies exclusively with WWD.
The role is a new one, and Ruis will have control over all markets with the exception of North America and China. He will take up his role on Monday and will report to Andrew Carnie, president of Anthropologie Group, which is a subsidiary of Urban Outfitters Inc.
Ruis was most recently ceo of Jigsaw, and before that served as executive buying and brand director at John Lewis. He has held product and brand management roles at companies including Levi Strauss & Co. and Ted Baker.
In an interview Friday, he said Anthropologie will focus on local strategies as it seeks to become a more international business. He said the retailer is looking at the template set by sister company Urban Outfitters, which has hubs in London and in Philadelphia.
“The idea is to create much more of a standalone, international hub in London. For the first time, we’ll be creating our own designs and developing products in London, and we’ll be having a more bespoke point of view that’s specific to Europe,” he said.
“Obviously, over time, we’ve got ambitions to be in Asia, and we’ve got some franchise deals coming. It’s about having a more international point of view, and I think Urban Outfitters has proven its success with having a London HQ as well as one in Philadelphia,” he said.
The idea for London is to create a dedicated design studio and build a team. “I have certainly learnt in my career, that the more local you can be, the better an international brand you can be,” Ruis said.
He said he took the job for a variety of reasons, including the international opportunities that await the brand, which has 227 stores and a number of wholesale accounts.
“We’ve just opened Dusseldorf, and we’d love to be in Paris, Barcelona and Copenhagen. Anthropologie is bigger in the States, but we haven’t really started in Europe,” he said. The lifestyle brand, which stocks a mix of clothing, accessories, jewelry, furniture and other items for the home, has 11 stores across the U.K., including a homeware-only shop-in-shop at Selfridges.
Asked about the environment in the U.K. where brick-and-mortar retailers are suffering much like their U.S. counterparts, Ruis was upbeat.
“The world is becoming more e-commerce focused, and it is completely intertwined with bricks and mortar. Because everything is restructuring, there are really good deals available. At some of these big stores, the landlords need really good tenants, and I think some of the deals we can do over the next few years are much better than the deals we could have done in the past,” he said.
Ruis added that Anthropologie is also willing to be “flexible and innovative,” and take over smaller or multiformat spaces. “I think there are lots of ways we can use our space differently. There are always going to be shops, and we just have to be clever and canny around how we build them, how we work them, and how we link them into our online platform.”
Ruis’ appointment comes three months after David McCreight, former ceo of Anthropologie and president of Urban Outfitters, exited the group. Carnie and Hillary Super, copresident of Anthropologie Group, took over his responsibilities.