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Eden Park

With a new agent on the team, the rugby-inspired lifestyle brand has big plans to grow its UK business.

Being named after New Zealand’s Eden Park stadium is only the first link in a chain of sporting heritage which lends lifestyle brand Eden Park real kudos in the eyes of rugby fans.

Franck Mesnel, one of the French brand’s founders, and a former professional rugby player who represented France against New Zealand’s All Blacks in the final of the first Rugby World Cup in 1987, is Eden Park’s president.

The brand, which operates six franchise stores in Richmond upon Thames in Surrey, Cardiff, Northampton, Newcastle upon Tyne, Belfast and Dublin, as well as having 15 UK and Republic of Ireland stockists, has big ambitions. “The UK is a very important territory for us,” Mesnel explains. “We spend a lot of time on this tug-of-war between the French je ne sais quoi and English whimsy that defines our brand – and, after all, rugby was invented in England.”

In France, Eden Park has 20 standalone stores, 30 franchises, 30 department store shop-in-shops and an additional 230 doors. Mesnel is confident the UK business can follow the same pattern, despite the fact that it accounts for only 10% of global turnover. “It takes time. We need to prove ourself in the UK marketplace,” he says.

The brand has appointed a UK agent, Cord Agencies, and will sell out of its London showroom. Mesnel explains: “You have to have a market expert in the field. This new agent will help us to consolidate and grow our UK business.”

David Blundell, managing director of Cord Agencies, which also sells young fashion brand Blend and womenswear range Geisha, is excited by the brand’s potential. “My aim is to grow the stockist base to between 120 and 150 during the next three years,” he says.

“Eden Park has connections with all the top rugby players, including Danny Cipriani and Lawrence Dallaglio, who are fronting the next campaign, as well as Dallaglio being the franchisee for the Richmond store. The company is very strong on promotions and advertising, which is a big incentive to us. It spent £20,000 on a shopfit for our showroom.”

Since its inception in 1987, Eden Park has grown into a 1,200-piece collection for spring 09, taking in clothing and homeware. During its 22-year lifespan, the brand has moved from pure sportswear to a more tailored look, including a range of suits across four sub-brands.

Club House, the more luxurious collection, will change its name to Fly Half Club as of spring 10, and take its influence from the world of aviation; Team takes in leisure sportswear; Town is split between formalwear styles and a more urban tailored look; and EP, targeted at the teenage market, will expand into a full offer in autumn 09 with more detailing and directional styling.

Sitting alongside other lifestyle brands such as Gant, Tommy Hilfiger, Polo Ralph Lauren and Hackett, the average price for a T-shirt is £20, knits are £30 to £35, trousers are £30 to £35, and a jacket is £100.

Essentials:

22: Number of years the brand has been established

57: Number of times brand founder Franck Mesnel played rugby for France

1,200: Number of pieces in the spring 09 collection

£20,000: Cost of the showroom shopfit

Eden Park 01732 852 281

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