How Australian tennis players can reverse this famous British brand
Radley CEO Justin Stead said: “We are the opposite of Michael Kors”
By Andrew Saunders
From Margaret Thatcher to Kate Middleton, British women have always liked this handbag – the market is worth more than £1.3 billion, according to a survey of the UK Women have an average of 14 pieces and buy three pieces a year. Well, this is not a bad thing.
However, sewing them all in a handbag is not as simple as the numbers suggest. The market is changing rapidly, with fierce competition, from market stalls to big bucks, to Chanel and Hermès’ super-premium “investment” packages, each worth up to £10,000.
Justin Stead, CEO of London handbag designer Radley & Co, says the key to success in such a crowded and fast-growing space is to get to know your customers. “Many of our competitors are struggling to chase consumers aged 18 to 27, older than us. Our audience is between 40 and 65 years old: she knows who she is and has a strong self for herself. Consciousness requires quality products and value. She is not a fashion leader, but she does want to look beautiful and relevant.”
He added that it is equally important to understand what your brand stands for and how it differs from its closest competitor. “We are affordable luxury, but we are working hard to make everything that Michael Kors doesn’t have. Kors is haute couture and the audience is younger – we are the opposite. We are real, we don’t try to adapt to every trend, we want to have a brand that is consistent, providing superior quality and value and people can trust.”
Ladley’s tote bag is designed in the UK and is made in India. It sells for between £60 and £250 and is known for its unique mascot in the shape of a Scottish Terrier. Stead admits that this is a good time, and when he and his private equity partner Freshstream took over the business in 2016, it was a piece of cake. Poor expansion plans make it have too many stores, sporadic international business and chaotic marketing. “It’s underperforming and financially poor. Customers and markets are there, but management is not good.”
But Stead said he can feel a successful business. “Radley is a precious British brand and we have a very loyal audience here. When we first visited the business, what resonated with me was an industry report that said Radley is the trusted lady handbag in the brand. The first brand. Britain. Trust is one of the most important things you can have – when I see this property, I know that Radley is a huge opportunity.”
Stead is a luxury brand owner who went to the UK to help another struggling group, Aurum [jeweler Mappin & Webb, owner of Swiss watches and goldsmiths], who worked in the US watchmaking industry Fossil. Work hard, where he learned to love a weak person. He said that as an entrepreneur, he likes to turn around.
For Radley, this means simple (even if it’s quite intense) action. “The problem is internal and can be solved. This is the top priority of all industries, but it is not doing well. We reduce it to avoid distraction and reorganize according to the new strategy and the restructured team.”
It was time for Radley to get rid of the streets that have swept through many other retailers since then.
Radley was originally transformed from an architect to designer Lowell Harder, J (selling a bohemian purse at a booth in Camden Market), and by 1998 has become a mature retailer and continues to be in the UK Have a store. But changing shopping habits have turned many street assets into debt. “Today, everyone is proficient in numbers and is undergoing a huge transformation. Customers go shopping for a day, watch a thing, take pictures, then go home and buy online.”
The so-called “omni-channel” shopping trend requires a rethinking of Radley’s stores, and now the focus is on displaying products in a dynamic environment and selling them on the spot. He said: “When we take over, we have 20 full-price stores. By the end of the next 12 months, we will drop to 10. But the 10 will be beautiful.”
The rest of the outlets will also be more and more high-tech, and Apple store-style tour salespeople and tablets will be used for ordering. “This is to provide the best customer experience. In our Birmingham pilot store, nearly 15% to 20% of the business now looks at items through customers, but buys tablets with sales people for home or collection. On another day.”
Are the people on the street dead? No, Stead said, but it changes faster than many people can cope with. “Maybe ten years ago, you might have 50 Radley stores across the UK. I guess, at least in the short term, this is over.”
Radley has also partnered with department store retailers, such as House Ashers, which was acquired by management from Mike Ashley’s Sport Direct, and Debenhams, which has nearly 30% stake in Sportben Direct. Stead quickly solved both problems, but in particular the approach taken by Ashley. “We have a lot of business with House of Fraser. To be frank, I was very impressed. Mike and his team are very easy to work with, very frank, they are good retailers and they will carefully consider them. What you did.”
Stead’s budget-conscious spirit has also been applied to international sales, replacing the focus on the two largest luxury brands in the US and China with the old “disordered” approach. It is paying dividends. “In 18 months, our retail sales increased from zero to $40 million. I recently showed four new series in New York that are well received. People there like British design and London stories, but until Now, our prices are still not a big event in London.”
Chinese customers also like British design, but shopping there is almost entirely online and mobile. For Stead and his 130 strong headquarters teams, this is an eye-opening experience. “You don’t have to do everything. We launched it in TMall (the Chinese retail giant Alibaba’s business-to-consumer network platform) in November 2017, which exceeded all our expectations.”
Stead believes that this Chinese dragon seems very scary for many companies, but it is worth mentioning that Alibaba’s 11:11 shopping event was held on November 11th (hence the name), last year’s sales reached A staggering $31 billion. Overall, Radley’s share may be small, but it’s still important to the business. “I was amazed at the work we did so that I went to Shanghai to visit the Alibaba headquarters. This is an incredible campus with a very dedicated workforce.”
Sales are not the only digital products. Radley’s marketing is becoming more and more virtual. “We have always been committed to creating digital content to flow through all channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). Our mission is to raise awareness of Scottie Dog by telling stories from London.”
He said that digital priority marketing can not only be driven by the four main seasons of the traditional fashion year, but also provide opportunities to place brands in front of customers more frequently. “We are now about 40 stories about Radley every year – stories about products, stories about successful women, and stories about Lunar New Year and Mother’s Day. All of this is focused on numbers.”
To this end, Stead is busy signing up for brand ambassadors to participate in frontline campaigns, starting with Eleanor Tomlinson of Poldark, who shares screens with others (including Scottie) in a series of short films featuring a London taxi journey. “She represents all the values we want to connect with our business: she is rooted, friendly and skilled.” It turns out that there is also a dog lovers.
“I want a young girl to show Radley on a yacht in the Mediterranean?” Stable. “That’s not us.”
But what about the bag itself? Will all market glitz at the expense of product quality? Other brands may commit fouls, but Stead believes that this will not happen in Radley. “The feedback we received, especially in the US, is unbelievable in terms of quality and price/value. Our leather is beautiful and our main supply partners have been in business for 21 years. Their headquarters are Kolkata, we believe in them, their supply is great.”
Thin, dark-skinned and energetic, it’s no surprise that Stead, born in Australia, became an athlete when he was young. “I am an aspiring professional tennis player: I am going to the United States to play for Oklahoma State University.”
However, although he is the top ten player in the NCAA University Tennis League, he realizes that he will not be in the forefront of professional competitions. “Former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash is a good friend. He used to be the greatest person in the sport, but I think that is impossible for me.” So he packed up the racket Started a company job: “I hope to have the opportunity to achieve world-class levels in what I do.”
He died in the fossil, and the top of the ladder did not escape him. Ten years later, he began to operate the global watch and jewellery business, but was tired of the treadmills of a public company. “You are hit hard every 90 days. If you miss a quarter, the stock price may be unreasonably finalized. I want to work with a private equity firm.”
As a result, a fruitful association was established with British retail entrepreneur Don McCarthy, who persuaded Stead to operate Aurum across the Atlantic in 2007. McCarthy, who passed away last year, has a lot of influence. “He taught me a lot of things, including enthusiasm that might cost money. As an Australian who has lived in the United States for 20 years, my glass overflows with more than half of the water. Don tells me to be more cautious, pay attention to the shortcomings and Vision.”
Stead is keen to learn ancient history, and he believes that lessons can be learned from the Roman Empire. “What does the world need? More moral leadership and understanding of greater well-being. My favorite emperor is Marcus Aurelius, because he is a persevering person, very concerned about it. And our society has turned a blind eye to bigger things, please listen to 2% of the people quarreling for another 98% of the cages.”
Therefore, at some point to be determined, when he wants to quit Radley, his goal is to keep the business in a better state than he found. “When I left Fossil, the business developed very well. After leaving Aurum, the business developed very well. I think we are discussing the same claims with Radley.”