After just over a year in the job, Gant UK’s managing director is pushing the boundaries and sees big growth potential, particularly in womenswear, kidswear and accessories.
With 400 wholesale doors in the UK, 80 wholly owned stores, three store franchises and what appears to be a permanent place on the bestseller lists in Drapers’ Indicator survey, Tracy Stone might have seemed to have got an easy gig when she took over as managing director at Gant UK at the end of 2006. Surely she could just sit back and watch the success continue? Possibly, but that’s not going to happen.
Stone, who returned to fashion after eight years in the beauty industry at House of Fraser and Space NK, claims there is still a lot of work to do, even in menswear, where the brand is a dominant force in casualwear. “Gant is phenomenally strong in menswear wholesale,” she says, smiling. “The reason we do so well with independent retailers is because of the quality, the breadth of the offer and also the service the brand provides.”
Gant started life on the US east coast in the 1940s as a shirt manufacturer and in time went on to become a fully-fledged lifestyle brand with a full clothing collection for men, women and children, as well as interiors. Since 1999 the brand has been under Swedish ownership. It was listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange in 2006 and in recent weeks it has successfully fended off a bid from Lacoste owner Maus Frères.
But this Scandinavian base has done nothing to dilute the obvious American feel of the brand, which is still famed for its shirts and trousers – its Hampton chinos have an almost religious fanbase of customers who swear by the fit. While it will continue to produce more of these preppy chinos, striped shirts, crew-necked knits and rugby shirts upon which the brand has built its success, those who think that is all Gant has to offer should think again.