Strong U.S. revenues have prompted Hugo Boss AG to bolster its retail and wholesale networks stateside.
This story first appeared in the June 23, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The division that oversees Hugo Boss’ U.S. business is going into spend mode to court specialty stores, improve the German fashion brand’s image and operations within department stores and grow its network of directly operated doors.
“We want to make the brand more top-of-mind for all our retail channels,” said Mark Brashear, chairman and chief executive officer of Hugo Boss Americas. “As the modern alternative to traditional men’s wear, we think we offer something distinct in terms of product, but we want to be better and more aggressive partners, too.”
Among the company’s top priorities is growing its specialty store business. It’s begun hosting retailer events during market week in New York. Hugo Boss is also rolling out shops in Mitchells, Mario’s and Garys by the end of the year, and is establishing specialty store selling contests. This spring, the company took four winners to the Kentucky Derby.
“With the continued casualization, globalization and modernization of our younger clientele, we feel the world of Hugo Boss fits [that customer’s] lifestyle,” Bob Mitchell, co-president of the Mitchells Family of Stores, said of Hugo Boss’ increased presence at the Westport, Conn., location.
The moves are showing early signs of success. The brand will be in 207 specialty accounts this fall, a 23 percent rise over the previous fall.
“We’ve traditionally focused on our larger customers, but we think there’s opportunity with better haberdashery stores,” Brashear said.
Department stores are getting the once-over, too. Hugo Boss plans to install 10 to 15 shops with key partners this year, as well as update fixtures in other doors. Similarly, the brand is expanding its replenishment program, adding more product exclusives and hiring retail-merchandising specialists for the store floor.
The investments underscore the brand’s recent performance in the U.S. It was among Hugo Boss’ strongest markets last year, outpacing most of Europe and Asia. In 2009, Hugo Boss sales in America rose 4 percent to 233 million euros, or $285.6 million at current exchange rates. Sales in Europe during the same period fell 11 percent.
The trend is continuing this year. Sales in the U.S. were up 2 percent in the first quarter to 59 million euros, or $72.3 million at current exchange, even as global revenues for the brand declined 8 percent overall during the period.
As Hugo Boss doubles down on its wholesale business, it is also expanding its own retail network. Boss by Hugo Boss doors will bow in Las Vegas, the Mall of America in Minnesota, and in Washington, and Santa Monica and Sacramento, Calif., this fall. The company operates 33 Boss doors, three Hugo stores and 28 factory outlets in the U.S.