In 2005/6, I was the proud owner of one of the fastest growing, most successful and well known Menswear sites in the UK.
At the time we were authorised stockists of many of the best-performing brands in the market. The business was hugely profitable and, obviously, I was enjoying the ride. Hindsight is always wonderful, but looking back, I should have really consolidated our strong position, and taken on an investor or partner to inject cash and resources. The company was always self-funded, right from day one in 1994. Nice and comfortable, but as I’d identified a real niche selling designer Menswear online, I should have strived to really grow. Asos, now a household name in the market, started shortly before us online, and now have a market value around £900,000,000. Valuable lessons learned! Being a pioneer in a market has unique challenges, but also offers unique opportunities, that shouldn’t be ignored.
As we had a bricks-and-mortar business as well as the online element, all of our brands were happy to continue to supply us, and either encourage or turn a blind eye to the internet sales. Many big brands were struggling to formulate a policy regarding online sales, as it effectively eroded the concept of exclusivity that adds so much value to a brand. I was now looking to broaden the brand offer, and continue the expansion. As we quite literally outgrew the available space at the store, it was now time to take on more space, and more staff.
Our brand line-up at the time included Armani Jeans, Blueblood Jeans, G Star Jeans, Lacoste, Diesel Jeans, Michiko Koshino, Original Penguin and loads of smaller brands that were picked up and dropped each season. Time to find a new “home”!