TM Lewin is planning to launch in India, Nigeria and the Philippines by the end of this year as part of an ambitious international strategy.
The shirt retailer is in its second year of a five-year international plan, having already launched in Australia, the Czech Republic, Ghana, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.
International director Mark Dunhill told Drapers there was “great appetite for TM Lewin’s combination of English heritage and value in the businesswear sector” in emerging markets, which are seeing rapid growth of middle classes.
“We have drawn up a list of markets that we have prioritised in order of attractiveness and the scale of business we think we can build,” Dunhill said. TM Lewin is hoping to capitalise on “the image of English style and elegance as personified by James Bond”.
India’s “UK-facing” culture and rocketing middle-class population was particularly attuned to this, Dunhill said.
TM Lewin has appointed a distributor called Smart Mark for its presence in west Africa. It opened one franchise store in the Ghanaian capital Accra in February and more are planned as opportunities arise, as well as “a number of stores” opening in Nigeria.
Dunhill said there was “a common thread” throughout the countries.
“As well as a respect for English style, there is a relative lack of competition in our category, so the opportunity for us to take a dominant position is great,” he said. “The ingredients are right.”
Prices will not drop according to local parity and could be 8% to 10% more than in the UK because of the related costs of entering the territory.
TM Lewin plans to enter China but Dunhill said it required “very careful planning and a business model specific to that market, so we are biding our time”. He is also planning to further expand in central and eastern Europe, although no territories are confirmed.
“The challenge is not so much finding new markets to go into, but managing and executing the opportunities we have – we have a queue of potential markets we could enter, but we don’t want to stretch ourselves too thinly,” Dunhill said.