Petit Bateau has just opened its 10th UK store in London. Its chief executive tells Victoria Gallagher why he left Prada to help the kidswear brand fulfil its potential.
You joined Petit Bateau less than a year ago after a stint as chief executive of the retail division of Prada France. What strengths do you think you’ve bought with you?
I think Prada is one of the most amazing fashion companies in the world. Its product is iconic and in fashion. Its visual displays are the most inventive in the world. Its expression of the brand in store is terrific.
What drew you to Petit Bateau?
I thought it was very powerful and a fantastic brand which has not achieved its full potential.
What areas have you earmarked for expansion?
The international business is a big challenge - how we grow in China, in India, in Russia and in places we are
not in at the moment or where we are a very small player. I think we have a major route to develop our business on the internet, particularly in Europe. We are launching our UK website in October. We are very excited as it’s an opportunity to develop Petit Bateau in the UK. For us the UK is an important market because it is one where everything is moving very fast.
Why did you relaunch Petit Bateau’s polo shirt line so soon after joining?
I wanted to show the company I could do something extremely quickly, so when I arrived I said we needed to relaunch that design. The polo is also on trend at the moment with a very preppy type of look.
Despite being known for kidswear, the brand has launched adult-size polo shirts. Are you looking to further expand this side of the business?
We entered the adult world without even knowing, because women were buying T-shirts made for 14-year-olds. We will be
doing more adult products. We’ve launched a marinière light [cotton top] with very light fabric and we are going to launch a new version of the T-shirt at the end of July.
What are you focusing on in terms of the adult range?
Simplicity, which is one of the main characteristics of the brand for me. I think people want more simplicity, they want something which is high quality but simple. I think people are fed up with all the excess.
Petit Bateau recently opened its 10th UK store, on Marylebone High Street. Why did you choose this location?
We love this street because it’s a wonderful street to shop on. It isn’t a very big store, but we love this idea of [the store being like an] apartment and we think small spaces are very cosy.
How will your UK wholesale business be changing?
[Petit Bateau has 85 UK stockists] We are planning to expand in terms of wholesale outside of London, because most of our stores are in London and, of course, we would love to wholesale in more places.
Who is your favourite designer?
What brands do you admire?
Honestly, for me its Prada. It’s a fascinating brand.
What was the last thing you bought?
A Comme des Garçons coat.
Where is your favourite place to shop?
When I go to Japan I love to go to the Comme des Garçons store.