Armed with the biggest menswear stock service in Europe, the German brand is determined to conquer the UK
Does the name Carl Gross ring a bell? No? Well, George Remmler, the brand’s agent at UK menswear agency Fashion Innovation aims to change that. Fashion Innovation has reintroduced the brand to the UK after a two-year hiatus and has ambitions to expand the brand’s 30-store stockist base up to a network of 80 independents.
The menswear brand is owned by German mainstream clothing giant Création Gross - a debt-free, family-run operation with a global turnover of €45m (£37m). Fashion Innovation predicts Carl Gross’s UK turnover will increase from £350,000 to £2m in two to three years - an ambitious target given the state of the menswear market.
According to Verdict Research, the menswear market declined 1.3% in 2009 to £9bn. In 2010, the market is expected to grow 3.1% - but this will be largely driven by inflation due to the hike in VAT and cotton prices, resulting in the UK market becoming all the more price competitive.
Carl Gross specialises in snazzy satin linings and design details such as leather elbow patches and under-collar contrast fabrication, but its real selling point is that it claims to operate the biggest stock service out of any menswear brand in Europe. With more than 50,000 items in stock at any time and a three-day delivery from ordering to shopfloor, Remmler says the brand is primed for expansion, despite the tough climate and the challenges faced by the menswear sector.
“[The brand] offers an enormous stock service and, especially during difficult times, people don’t want to have to commit to huge orders,” he says. “We have to [be flexible] to minimum orders from independents because we are new to the market and we need to give people the opportunity to try it.”
The Carl Gross brand is broken into two product sub-divisions, classic and contemporary, and CG, a younger tailoring brand launched in 2003 targeting 20 to 35-year-olds.
Menswear independent Elliotts of Lymington in Hampshire bought into Carl Gross for the first time for spring 10. “We’ve only had it on the shopfloor for about a week”, says sales assistant Darren Horne. “A lot of manufacturers make suits with jacket and trousers as a package, but with Carl Gross you can mix and match, which is useful as not everybody is the same size.”
For spring 11 the brand is emphasising comfort over construction, with casual lines and natural shoulders. Prices start at £64 for jackets, £26 for trousers and £87 for suits.
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Carl Gross 020 7937 5863