German womenswear brand Gerry Weber has hired former Basler UK managing director Christian Lawaczeck as head of its UK and Republic of Ireland operation, filling the void created by former country manager Howard Ross’s departure last year.
Lawaczeck will join the mainstream brand on May 1 and will focus on its UK wholesale business, which has 300 stockists. He will also review the retail operation in the UK, which includes nine standalone stores and one concession.
The appointment will come as a relief to Gerry Weber stockists who feared Ross’s departure signalled the brand’s intention to run its UK operation from Germany. There has been no one at the helm of Gerry Weber in the UK since Ross was made redundant last October.
Lawaczeck said: “Customers need to be reassured that Gerry Weber is committed to the UK market. The departure of my predecessor has left some unease with customers and I need to reassure them. As a priority
I will be visiting as many customers and key accounts as possible.”
In October, Gerry Weber said it would be looking to implement a “trust order limit” for larger wholesale stockists in the UK whereby retailers hand their allocated budget for the brand to Gerry Weber, which would then use daily sales data drawn direct from retailers’ EPoS systems to select stock for some forward orders and all repeat orders.
However, Lawaczeck said this was mooted only because it worked well for the brand in Germany and would not be forced on any UK stockists.
“It would be fatal to try and convert the whole market to this way of working. It will be available to some customers as an option but we will have to see who is interested and who is suitable,” he said.
Lawaczeck has been replaced at Basler by Paul Lorraine, previously UK managing director of lingerie and hosiery brand Wolford.
Basler, which has about 200 UK stockists, is expanding its UK retail operation with the opening of a store in Westfield London next week, another in Brent Cross later this year, and an outlet in Bicester Village next year. It has four standalones, nine shop-in-shops, 12 concessions and five partner stores, which differ from franchise stores as those running the store pay no fee.