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Base London

After a successful turnaround in the UK, the contemporary men’s footwear brand is heading into Europe.

Driving past the mock-Edwardian mansions and turret-topped blocks of flats in the Essex village of Loughton, there was a fear that the team at the head office of contemporary men’s footwear brand Base London would be similarly over the top.

Thankfully, managing director Ian Cartwright and brand manager Liz Lawley are a down-to-earth pair eager to discuss their brand’s upward trajectory.

“We have been nervous about talking to the press, as we wanted to have something positive to shout about first,” explains Cartwright, who joined Base London just after its inception in 1996. Cartwright has since worked his way up to the top job, becoming managing director 18 months ago.

“We had lost focus before I took over, so my first year in charge was all about getting the fundamentals right, what I call the ‘six Ps’ – product, price, processes, promotion, place and people. Now they are in place, I’m excited to talk about the future,” he says.

That future begins, he says, with a 25% rise in turnover forecast for his second year in charge, which concludes in November. So far this year, monthly like-for-likes have varied between 30% and 40% up on last year.

Cartwright believes that before he took over, the company was lacking in customer knowledge and an understanding of who buys Base London. To help pinpoint that demographic, former licensing manager Liz Lawley was promoted to brand manager.

“There was a lack of consistency in marketing to our target market,” explains Lawley. “We needed to find out more about our customer, so we implemented research to define three main customer types. Now when we put together our collections we can make sure each shoe fits one of our target men: pub lad, club man and bar dandy.”

Spring 09 sees the Base London range expanded to include more categories which appeal to a different type of customer – a fashion formal range has been created in addition to the formal line, while sports casual is a breakaway range from the casual line. Details such as gold prints on the soles of simple lace-up styles, and coloured moccasins all add points of interest.

With the customer profile and product sorted, Cartwright is now looking further afield. “We’ve secured European distribution with a Rotterdam firm called Street Style, and the target is for our international sales to account for a third of our turnover within the next couple of years. The British feel of our product should work well abroad.”

That is not to say that Cartwright will be neglecting his 250 UK accounts. His goal is not to increase domestic stockists, but to encourage stores to buy deeper into the range and to offer better support. He says: “We have hit a new high of 90% delivery on time for the past four months. It’s those areas, alongside the product, which are really important for us to work on.”

Base London 020 8532 0000 www.baselondon.com

Essentials:
25%: The predicted increase in turnover for Base London this year
250: Number of Base London’s UK accounts
1995: The year that Base London was set up

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