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WDT boss to lead fast-fashion overhaul

Asbed Momdjian, founder of World Design & Trade (WDT), the company behind young fashion brands Firetrap, Fullcircle and Sonneti, has outlined plans to turn the group into a specialist fast-fashion branded supply house and slammed the traditional two-collection, multi-brand retailer route to market as “dead”.

Following the announcement this week that chief executive Pan Philippou and Firetrap UK sales director Colin Clarke are stepping down, Momdjian, who is also chairman of WDT, told Drapers he had kicked off a 90-day strategy review at the branded fashion group.

Momdjian, who founded WDT in 1981, said his vision was to build it into a fast-fashion branded supply house with more in-season collections, quicker deliveries and replenishment systems to cope with the changing market. Under the new model, Firetrap will deliver new product to its stockists 10 months out of 12, replenishing winning lines on a six to eight-week basis. Sonneti, which has been rebranded to SC51, will have four main collections a year plus flash collections and stock-replenishment capabilities.

Momdjian said: “The old model of brands developing two collections a year and using the multi-branded retail outlets as a route to market is dead. The markets and consumer behaviour have changed irreversibly.

“The brands which are fast in all their activities will win every time and when the market turns around, which I expect to take place in the second quarter of 2010, these are the brands that will increase their momentum and market share.”

In spite of the recession, Momdjian said WDT’s UK wholesale sales had been flat over the past 12 months but the international wholesale business had shown “robust” increases.

“The key for any wholesale stockist is sell-through and we have put various schemes in place to help them,” said Momdjian.

Separately, Phillippou, who will leave the business on September 4, as exclusively revealed by Drapersonline.com (August 4), is understood to be in talks with various parties about his next role in the industry.

Meanwhile Clarke, who has headed up Firetrap sales for three years, is to join young fashion brand Fly53 as UK sales director. Fly53 is backed by venture capital firm Key Capital Partners (KCP).

WDT performance

For the year to June 30, 2008:

Overall

Sales +6% to £70.46m

Profit  +1.8% to £4.39m

Brand breakdown by sales

Firetrap +7% to £46.7m

Fullcircle +14% to £12.5m

Sonneti -25% to £7.7m

Readers' comments (3)

  • More brands are moving towards offering in season drops and items from stock. It's a challenge for them to manage cashflow with thsi new and very different business modely but in the end it is a far better way for a retailer to operate in the difficult times especially as the high street is so fast nowadays.

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  • As a retailers I applaud this strategy. I can no longer fix my budget six months in advance as there are so many unknown factors that far ahead. I am buying more in-season but I would really like it if some of the larger brands that made good quality merchandise started offering a really great in-season collections and in-season winners from stock. Would be good to just order these online as well.

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  • Retailers like to have choice from stock. They don't want to fwd order, clog themselves up with stock and have all their eggs in one basket STS.

    Wholesalers don't like the risks of carrying stock either. A not so good seller can wipe out the profit on the bestsellers.

    The problem is, someone somewhere has to commit and carry the stock....some may be a sell out and some may not..

    Our label produces a range most months with delivery after 5 or 6 weeks. As it's made in UK, it's possible to do.
    Sometimes I take a chance on a style and make extra so we can provide stock. Sometimes I just make to order.

    It's the lead times that are key from order to delivery. The high margins gained from off shore production can easily be lost on the slowness to market.

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