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Exclusive: Dockers eyes UK expansion

US casualwear brand Dockers, part of the Levi Strauss stable, is launching bricks and mortar in the UK as part of its brand turnaround. 

Dockers’ UK wholesale stockists include John Lewis, Fenwick, Oi Polloi and Slaters, and the territory is the brand’s second-largest region for ecommerce sales. 

Now the casualwear brand has plans to make its first foray into own retail on UK soil. 

Before summer it will launch a pop-up store in London and, depending on its success, will consider future permanent stores in the capital. 

The move is part of Dockers turnaround, which launched in 2016 under the helm of general manager for Dockers Europe Francisco Gonzalez-Meza Hoffmann.

The brand was founded in 1986 and was a leader in casual workwear. However, Hoffmann told Drapers: “We stopped innovating, and become very conservative.”

Dockers has since refocused on product innovation and transformed to a predominantly direct-to-consumer model. Wholesale now accounts for 25% of the business, compared with 55% in 2016. Online sales contribute 15%.

Having stabilised its core European markets of France, Spain and Turkey – with product innovation, reducing pricing options and simplifying the customer journey –  the brand is now turning its attentions to the UK. 

Hoffmann said: “The UK is the second largest for trousers in Europe and I believe that we need to have a strong presence there. We had a strong year last year, and with little investment were able to grow the business significantly from a small base.” 

While Levi Strauss does not provide separate financial results for Dockers, Hoffmann told Drapers the business has driven double-digit turnover growth over the last two years and has higher profit margins than the overall corporation.  

The brand has simplified its pricing architecture by reducing the number of pricing options from five to three, as well as its in-store product positioning. 

“We are leading with innovation in store. People who know us can go to the back of the store and find our traditional pants, but the first thing we want on the table is the innovative pieces,” said Hoffmann.

Dockers materials include thermoregulation fabrics, four-way stretch textiles with hidden pockets and knitted textures with “the presentability of a chino”. 

Dockers currently has 19 stores across Europe in Spain, France, Turkey and Portugal.

 

 

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