LONDON — Belstaff has named Mike Woodcock to the post of chief financial officer, and moved its financial base and trademark back to the U.K. from Switzerland as it seeks to build its luxury brand credentials.
Woodcock, who has already begun work, joined the company from Montblanc, and is a Compagnie Financière Richemont veteran, like Belstaff’s chief executive officer Gavin Haig. Woodcock had previously worked with Haig at Dunhill, and is currently overseeing all of Belstaff’s intellectual property and looking to strengthen the business via SAP implementation.
The plan is to trim overheads, streamline working practices, and consolidate Belstaff’s key offices from five – in London, Milan, Caslano, Switzerland, New York and Venice – to a central headquarters in London, with a sourcing hub in Venice.
“Belstaff is very proud to finally be able to genuinely call itself a modern British heritage brand. We now truly have our heart and soul in the U.K.,” said Haig. “Our key company operations stem from the U.K. Only Belstaff production remains stationed in Italy, although all our wax cotton is produced in the north of England, and we hope to grow our U.K. production further.”
Belstaff was born in 1924 as an outerwear brand for off-road motor sports in Stoke on Trent, England, and over the years was based in the U.K., Italy and New York.
The most recent changes are part of a bigger overhaul of the company with an eye to transforming it into a major luxury player and possibly seeking an initial public offering down the road: Last July, the company set up Belstaff Japan K.K. and the plan is to open four Japanese stores this year.
Since September, 2014, three stores have opened in Seoul, Korea, while a shop in Macau opened last October.
With regard to the U.K., Haig has said he wants to expand further via department store concessions and with independent retailers. He is also planning to open 1-2 more directly operated stores.
There are currently three Belstaff stores in London, a flagship on New Bond Street, Westfield White City, and Spitalfields in East London. There are also directly operated stores in Manchester and Glasgow, and outlets in Bicester and Kildare, part of the Value Retail network of outlet villages.
Revenue for the year to January 31 is on track to rise 20 percent year-on-year, and Haig is forecasting similar growth for the upcoming financial year.
As reported, the brand is also accelerating its women’s business under vice-president of women’s design Delphine Ninous, and Liv Tyler has become the new face of the brand. Tyler is also working on a capsule collection with Ninous that will bow in February in New York and London.
The brand has also launched men’s and women’s shoe ranges, and a men’s accessories collection. Currently footwear and accessories generate 10 percent of sales, and Haig believes they could make up a third of sales within three years.
Belstaff also plans to return to print advertising in the second half, after an 18-month break.
There is also a capsule collection designed in conjunction with the sons of James Hunt, the late British Formula One racer, in celebration of the 40th anniversary of their father’s Formula One championship win at Fuji, Japan in 1976.