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Ben Sherman ramps up UK operations in growth strategy

The Baird Group has outlined plans to “re-energise” Ben Sherman, after extending its UK licence for the brand to the end of 2023.

The Leeds-based group, also known as BMB Clothing, handles Ben Sherman’s UK retail, wholesale and ecommerce operations after acquiring its UK licence from US owner Marquee Brands last year.

Baird chief executive Mark Cotter told Drapers that the group is trying to reinvigorate Ben Sherman as a “young, exciting brand”.

“Ben Sherman’s previous management team tried to re-energise the brand, which we’re continuing to do. The brand has always been synonymous with music culture but for a period it was off the radar, while the likes of Pretty Green have stepped into that area.”

As part of this positioning, the business is making a push to support more young music bands with partnership deals.

Ben Sherman is also launching a formalwear hire service for spring 18. The range will be available across its stores as well as in Debenhams.

Cotter said this forms part of a move to “expand its reach” and bring in “something new and interesting” for its customers.

The hire service will sit alongside the brand’s made-to-measure service, which launched ten months ago in its retail stores. Cotter said the business will review whether to extend made-to-measure to its wholesale and department store concession businesses next year.

As part of plans to support “significant growth”, the group has recruited a brand director, buying director and merchandising director in a trio of newly created roles.

The most recent of these hires is Johanna Senior, who joined as brand director last month, joining buying director Sam Dorries and merchandising director Helen Gething.  

Cotter said online sales have grown by more than 150% year on year over the last 12 months and he plans to double this again in the next year.

Wholesale has also seen significant growth, with its presence at Debenhams rising to 120 stores from 80 in addition to opening around 40 new wholesale accounts this year.

“The brand has got a lot of recognition as a heritage label, so this has been a big enterprise for the group, but we have expanded our customer base significantly,” said Cotter.

Ben Sherman now operates four stores and 12 outlets across the UK, growing from the three shops and four outlets that BMB inherited last year.

The brand is present in 12 territories including Australia, Germany and the Netherlands.

Baird, which is a design, manufacturing and wholesale business, oversees several brands including Racing Green and Gibson London. Its labels are distributed through concessions at Debenhams and House of Fraser as well as independent retailers.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Contradictions here from Cotter. He wants to make the brand 'young and exciting' but then states further expansion into Debenhams (where it is often seen as 'own label') which is a store group that is anything but hip. It's a circle that cannot be squared. The brand needs somebody like Hit Union or similar ilk to take the time to get it to where it wants to go.

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