New MD brings new lease on life

HerringboneThe newly appointed head of van Laack Australia, parent company of Herringbone and Rhodes & Beckett, Gerard Crawford, plans to put the two fashion brands back on the map ahead of international expansion.

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Crawford joined as MD of van Laack Australia in January 2015, taking the reigns from Rhodes & Beckett founder, Nelson Mair, who stepped down from the business on April 1. Mair had been managing Herringbone since 2012.

Crawford was previously country manager Australia of UK men’s and women’s fashion brand, T.M Lewin, overseeing the retailer’s expansion into Australia and opening of 25 retail locations.

“Our view currently is that the market has changed massively over the last couple of years with the influx of international brands and the development of the some of [our] Australian competitors,” Crawford told Inside Retail PREMIUM.

“Joining the business, our initial view has been that both Herringbone and Rhodes & Beckett have been static and haven’t really progressed and moved forward the way the market has.

“It’s about re-establishing the place of the brands in the market and putting them back on the map. That will include product development, marketing strategies, and also what we do with our teams and therefore our customers.”

There are around 40 stores in Australia across both brands, including concessions at Myer. Crawford said the business is eyeing redevelopments at Chadstone shopping centre in Melbourne and Pacific Fair on the Gold Coast as potential new sites, and admits Herringbone lacks presence in the Sydney CBD.

A new Rhodes & Beckett store will open at Chatswood in Sydney’s north later this year in June under a new fitout, unveiled at Emporium, Melbourne last year.

“We’re going to consolidate and look at each of our spaces. Some of our spaces in the major cities are in the wrong locations, and we are going to look at where we can reposition and have those stores in the right spaces.”

International expansion is also on the cards for both, with Crawford naming southeast Asia for Herringbone, and Europe and London for Rhodes & Beckett, setting the date as early as 2016 for overseas stores.

“We have two spaces in Singapore for Herringbone working alongside van Laack spaces that are already there, and we see very much Herringbone as a brand that would sit well in the southeast Asia market.

“We see Rhodes & Beckett as a brand that would sit well potentially in Europe and in London. This year is about consolidating and putting the brands back on the map in Australia but at the same time we’re looking at what we can do internationally.”

A new management structure has also begun to be implemented at van Laack Australia under Crawford, with the CEO appointing a new multi-channel head to drive e-commerce, online platforms, and social.

Rhodes & Beckett doesn’t have a social media presence, but will launch these in July. Crawford says Herringbone’s social presence is “static and has also not moved in the last couple years”.

Herringbone launched a new store look last year, with the refurbishment process expected to continue this year. Similarly, Rhodes & Beckett launched a new store concept at Emporium last year and Crawford says this is also in the process of being rolled out to existing stores.

“The key focus for Herringbone stores will be about bringing some theatre into those stores to enable customers to get some inspiration. Similarly, with Rhodes & Beckett, we have a lot of things we can do that we don’t really talk about, like made to measure and made to order. It’s there in the background but we need to bring some theatre into the stores to show that we can do those services really well.”

This story first appeared in Inside Retail PREMIUM issue 2044. To subscribe, click here.

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