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Indies claim they are being 'neglected' by Hugo Boss

Hugo Boss has come under fire for growing its retail arm with little thought for its independent stockists, with some businesses accusing the brand of plotting a complete exit from smaller stores.

It comes after the company last week revealed a 6% rise in own retail sales and plans to open 50 stores worldwide by 2016, building on an increase of 19 shops since December 31, 2014. The expansion would raise its total store count to 1,110.

Meanwhile, its wholesale sales dropped 2% during the first quarter of 2015, a decline Hugo Boss said it expects will continue for the rest of the year.

One southeast England retailer who has stocked Hugo Boss since 1988 said it has reduced the number of independent stockists by about 30% in recent years.

“We aren’t getting the service we used to get and we do feel neglected,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if in seven years it is only trading out of its own stores.”

Other stockists of the German business’s mainline, as well as diffusion lines Boss Orange, Boss Green, Boss Black and Hugo, believe the company is implementing increasingly strict payment terms and high minimum orders.

The director of one menswear store in the north of England suggested that, while wholesale prices haven’t increased, high minimum order values were pricing small retailers out of carrying the ranges.

“Over the last two or three years, they’ve decided you must spend X amount on Green and X amount on Orange, then on footwear you must pick four styles, and you must buy two or three belts.”

The managing director of another store agreed that forcing buyers to opt into all categories was putting them under pressure, saying: “The minimums they set, such as buying into four collections a year, gives the impression that if ‘you’re small we don’t need you’.”

Hugo Boss did not respond to Drapers’ request for comment.

In March, Hugo Boss regained control of its Asian and Middle Eastern growth markets by cutting ties with its franchise partners in South Korea and taking over all 17 stores there. It said this contributed to the 2% drop in wholesale revenues.

The following month, it took back 21 Boss franchise stores in China, bringing the total number of standalone stores on the Chinese mainland to about 130.

@LukeToddUK

Readers' comments (10)

  • Ah the poor retailer!
    Who made Boss, what it is the INDIES!
    Who suffers the most? The INDIES and other suppliers buy reducing the Open to buy and crippling the cash flow!
    Who lets them get away with it the INDIES.!
    Come on Indies wake up,there are plenty of great suppliers out there ,if not you deserve what you get. Some people might call it mugging I call it abusing their position!

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  • It's pretty obvious what's going on here, Hugo Boss are forcing their retailers into an unsustainable position where stocking the brand becomes financially untenable. Which is what they want.

    Indies have two options. Stick with it until the above happens, or two, blown them out as that's what Boss wants you to do.

    The choice as they say, is yours...

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  • Websites like Jules B and Country attire are discounting Boss and many large brands for large parts of the year , Jules B offering £30 off when you spend £150 , 20% off effectively , others send out regular voucher codes to e mail subscribers , how can a bricks and mortar only business turn a profit when they want 20-25 k per season minimum order

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  • Let's be clear here, nobody forces the indies to buy Hugo Boss, the brands and collections the indies choose to sell is their decision, and nobody else's.

    With the annual pressure for more growth and increased sales, it's a fine line between pushing your existing clients harder and furthering your distribution, so let's see which way Hugo Boss will go.

    One thing is clear, the indies aren't as important for Boss as they used to be.


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  • Does this bully boy attitude apply to the rest of the World ?

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  • Let's be clear here, nobody forces the indies to buy Hugo Boss, the brands and collections the indies choose to sell is their decision, and nobody else's.

    With the annual pressure for more growth and increased sales, it's a fine line between pushing your existing clients harder and furthering your distribution, so let's see which way Hugo Boss will go.

    One thing is clear, the indies aren't as important for Boss as they used to be.


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  • I think the previous poster is missing the point. Boss do not want Indies, but cannot close them down as it would be illegal, so they create an situation over a number of years designed for them to fail. Indies are not part of their medium/long term plans, so they should deal with brand that DO want to support them instead.

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  • It's an old story of large global brands dictating to the small retailer. The times are a'changing and surely it's about time the last remaining independents remembered that it is the brand above their door that is the most important and stopped allowing the tail to wag the dog. There are alternatives out there who, like the previous poster has said, would support those independents. I only wish they had the guts to stock them.

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  • Sadly I don't think many Indies have got the balls to give Boss the middle finger. They're going to get blown out anyway, so they're missing out on having the upper hand, however brief.

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  • There are lesser known brands out there, of equal quality that have excellent sell through and allow higher margins too - retailers shouldn't be bullied.

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