Sailing and country sports specialist Musto is embarking on a three-pronged plan to drive growth
Anyone who has ever been on a sailing holiday or spent time idling around the UK’s rivers will have come across Musto. In the country sports arena Musto is regarded as must-have kit for braving the elements.
Now the brand is extending its expertise in technically led performance clothing to the lucrative 30-plus lifestyle sector. “Until now, our business has been built on high-quality performance clothing,” explains Andy Towne, Musto’s managing director. “Now we’re taking the personality of the brand a step forward; extending each of our four touch points - quality, innovation, technical expertise and sincerity - to become an international consumer brand.”
Towne joined Musto over a year ago, coming from Reebok where he was European marketing director. Joining him in the move was Sarah Lawrenson, former head of clothing Europe at Reebok, who has spearheaded Musto’s creative efforts. “We believe there is a gap in the market for a mid-30s high street consumer, who wants performance clothing without looking like they’ve just stepped off a yacht,” she says.
The collection takes inspiration from its country heritage, using fabrics such as tweeds, leathers, suedes and waterproof nylons. “It’s all in the construction,” Lawrenson explains. “From the outside the jackets may look inconspicuous but inside you’ll find details such as mesh ventilation and fully taped seams.”
The lifestyle offer for men and women is priced from £55 to £300 and will target a mainstream fashion distribution within which Musto is currently under-represented. “We have about 1,200 retail customers in the UK,” Towne explains. “But most of those are a combination of chandlers, riding schools and country sports clubs. There is an opportunity to drive more sales from the active lifestyle market and extend that to fashion indies and department stores, which already stock brands such as Timberland, Gant and Peak Performance.”
Musto is also in talks with property agents in a bid to ramp up its own retail footprint. The brand has 12 standalone stores and one factory outlet and is targeting market towns as well as cities such as Exeter in Devon and Harrogate in North Yorkshire. The plan is to eventually expand to a total of 30 stores.
Equally ambitious is the brand’s fully transactional website, developed by BT Fresca, which launched last week. “It’s an online shopping experience which is not only consistent with how we want the Musto brand to be perceived, but is a dynamic etail experience which is up there with the best online clothing retailers,” says Towne.
When quizzed on how Musto’s stockists feel about the brand’s decision to go transactional, Towne says: “We believe that what we’re doing will help our stockists’ sales grow. By creating interest and awareness of Musto we’re enticing people to go into shops. We’re only who we are because of our stockists.”
2.6: The margin which Musto offers stockists
1,800sq ft: Size of a typical Musto standalone store
£55: Typical starting price for the brand’s lifestyle collection