Independents have expressed growing dissatisfaction with Hugo Boss after experiencing a second season of minimum spends and buying through collections imposed by the premium German brand.
Indies told Drapers they had become increasingly frustrated with the minimum spends Hugo Boss imposed from spring 12 and having to buy all categories across collections. They are now reconsidering how they buy the brand and if they will continue to stock it.
One Cambridgeshire indie explained: “Not every retailer is able to sell every category. By the time you are finished – shoes, accessories, socks - you are talking about spending up to £30,000 on Boss Black, for instance. They also want to sell in-season on top of that. You have to bite your lip and do the bare minimums.”
He added: “I’m now looking at each collection separately to know what I can sell. The rest will go on ebay or somewhere I can get my costs back.”
A Merseyside stockist said that while he was frustrated with the brand, removing it altogether would impact adjacancies. However, imposing stock on indies that they ultimately will not be able to sell could mean the brand ending up at discount or outlets – a move that could potentially devalue it in the long-term, the Merseyside stockist added.
Another menswear indie dropped the brand after autumn 11 due to the increased minimum spend. He said: “If you don’t follow these guidelines then Hugo Boss will drop you. They were insisting on every single line, even socks. It’s a silly scenario.”
Hugo Boss UK managing director Bernd Hake explained that imposing minimum spends and asking retailers to buy across all categories was to help showcase the lifestyle offering of Hugo Boss’ five brands.
He said: “What we realised is that people were concentrating on key product categories and not buying into the lifestyle of the brand. We found in the past that indies went to all five of our brands, picking and choosing whatever they wanted, but only spending £10,000. On the shopfloor, this looked like a mess.”
He advised indies to focus on one or two Hugo Boss brands, buying into all categories and lifestyle. In light of the Merseyside stockist’s comments, Hake added that, in the interest of Hugo Boss’ brand protection, those that flout agreements and sell stock through discount channels such as ebay would be “penalised”.
Hake has invited dissatisfied stockists to discuss their frustrations directly with him. “Our success still depends on a strong relationship with independents,” he said.