Timberland Europe’s senior director for brand marketing and merchandising tells Marie Davies he is refocusing on the outdoor market
Timberland has a big focus on environmental issues - why is this so important?
The chief executive of Timberland, Jeffrey Swartz, has had environmental issues as a core component [of his strategy] for some time now. By being cautious in our factories and bringing in innovative design with recycled materials we have cut carbon emissions in manufacturing by 27% between 2006 and 2009.
When you combine commerce and environmental justice, it becomes very powerful. Timberland was at the Copenhagen climate summit earlier this year and a key milestone will be raising awareness at the London Olympics in 2012 and the football World Cup this summer.
How important do you think environmental issues are in the mind of the consumer?
Quality and fit [of a garment] will always come first but innovation is very important, and if we can do this in an environmental way I think it adds value to the purchase. We try to innovate in what we do and how we do it. We don’t pretend to be anything we are not, but we try to eliminate unnecessary waste wherever possible.
Apart from environmental issues, what are Timberland’s other priorities?
We aim to put ourselves back to where we used to be as the number one outdoor brand in the world. It’s important that we emphasise the outdoor element in our current and forthcoming collections. My challenge for Europe is to create a new distribution and sales plane to regain credibility as an outdoor brand.
How will you go about claiming back outdoor market share?
By making sure our stores and online business have a clear focus on the outdoors with the right product. Technicality becomes very important in this market and we are experienced in this, along with quality and fit. We will localise distribution and tailor the type of stores to which we are distributing, letting them tell us what their consumers’ needs are. We are already penetrating outdoor stores though our Earthkeepers collection [Timberland’s own eco range, which features boots with components that can be recycled when users have finished with them. The range also uses rubber from old tyres for its soles]. We are also collaborating with a small ethical footwear brand named Po-Zu. We want to make our collaborations meaningful and in keeping with our beliefs.
What have been your career highlights?
The brands I’ve worked with. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with the best in the field - from Adidas, Nike, and now Timberland.
I’ve worked on brand-building, and at Timberland I also get to experience the retail and consumer sides of the business. The energy and knowledge I’ve built from these brands means I have a certain versatility. I use this knowledge to help me move forward and combine this experience to benefit future decisions.
Argu Secilmis is senior director for brand marketing and merchandising at lifestyle brand Timberland Europe