~~two WWD articles that explain Mulberry’s U.S. marketing strategy~~

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  1. There’s been discussion and confusion (me included! :P) on tPF about why Mulberry bags seemed very widely available in U.S. department stores a couple of years ago, but are far more limited and difficult to find these days. These two articles I found help to explain the company’s strategy…

    In a nutshell, Mulberry apparently was “testing the waters” with their U.S. department store sales in 2004-2005. Now, by largely funneling sales through their own Mulberry boutiques and mulberry.com, they hope to retain the exclusivity of the brand—and cut down on those huge markdowns at department-store sale time, I bet!

    Women's Wear Daily (WWD)

    November 27, 2006


    BYLINE: Jennifer Hirshlag

    NEW YORK - Mulberry has branched out, opening its first U.S. boutique in Manhattan, and more are on the way.

    The British luxury leather goods firm, with a track record of producing must-have bags and for accessorizing style icons like Kate Moss, Sienna Miller and Scarlett Johansson, has opened at 387 Bleecker Street. More stores are expected to follow next month, including a flagship at 605 Madison Avenue, and units in the Americana mall in Manhasset, N.Y., and on Melrose Place in Los Angeles. A fifth location, at the Pier Shops at Caesars in Atlantic City, is expected in February.

    "Over the 35 years that we have been in business, this has been a very U.K.-focused brand, and now we are opening it up internationally," said Lisa Montague, chief executive officer. "The U.S. represents a huge opportunity within that international expansion because the demand for luxury goods here is significant. If we get it right and appeal to our consumer base, it could give us a fantastic opportunity to increase our business overall."

    Mulberry, which was founded in England in 1971 by accessories buyer Roger Saul, has had an extensive rebranding effort under way since 2000. That's when Singapore fashion and hotel entrepreneurs Christina Ong and husband Ong Beng Seng invested $14.5 million in the company.

    In 2002, Saul sold his stake in the firm. Two years later, Mulberry hired design director Stuart Vevers, who worked closely with Mark Jacobs when Vevers was a design consultant for LVMH Mot Hennessy Louis Vuitton. Also during that time, Mulberry began its retail rollout, adding five new stores in the U.K. to its 10 boutiques in cities such as London and Paris, and in the Netherlands.

    Retail expansion into Hong Kong, Japan and northern European countries followed. In the last 12 months, Mulberry has opened five standalone stores, including locations in Terminal 4 at London's Heathrow airport and in Edinburgh, as well as in Norway, Thailand and Taiwan, bringing Mulberry's total number of doors to 24 worldwide.

    Mulberry began targeting U.S. business two years ago through wholesale distribution. It launched its first collection of bags here in Bergdorf Goodman, and also distributed its assortment in Barneys New York, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom. At the time, Montague told WWD that she estimated first-year sales here at $1 million, but had hopes to boost that to $50 million in the next five years.

    Montague declined to give updated sales projections, but said she would like to see the U.S. market generate 30 percent of Mulberry's business in the future, and business from Europe and Asia split the other two-thirds. Mulberry now generates 90 percent of its business in the U.K. and northern Europe.

    "We wanted to test the U.S. market through wholesale before opening up retail locations here because it is such an important market," Montague said. "Fortunately, we had great success and it's given us the confidence to move ahead. I think it will be a great balance to have our department and retail store business here. The customer wants a personal relationship with the brand, which is difficult to achieve in a department store. It will also give us the opportunity to offer the whole brand experience, which may include bringing our apparel to the States."

    Montague said the new stores adhere to an interior design concept modeled on Mulberry's Bond Street location in London, but each space is created to have its own character and merchandised with a mix suited to its environment.

    "The Bleecker Street store is very much targeted to a cool downtown girl - it's very Kate Moss," she said. "But with Madison Avenue, we need to consider different customer groups. All the stores will still have the Mulberry brand aesthetic, but we recognize that there are unique needs in different markets."

    The Bleecker Street space, which Montague calls a jewel-box location at 530 square feet, is retailing women's and men's merchandise, including handbags, luggage, small leather goods, gloves, scarves and items like notebooks and organizers. Prices range between $59 and $2,995, and bespoke items top out at $9,000.

    The new Madison Avenue store is expected to be 3,000 square feet. To celebrate both New York openings, Mulberry is throwing a party on Wednesday at 5 Ninth in the Meatpacking District.
  2. Women's Wear Daily (WWD)

    June 22, 2007 Friday


    BYLINE: Samantha Conti

    LONDON - British accessories and ready-to-wear brand Mulberry is branching out.

    Mulberry's goal is to be recognized as a full-fledged luxury brand rather than simply the accessories company that makes the Roxanne and Bayswater bags. "Our mission is to convey the brand and build the company on an international level," said Godfrey Davis, chairman and chief executive of Mulberry. "In the U.S. in particular, we've sold a lot of Roxanne and Bayswater bags into department store chains. But customers have been buying into the bags, rather than into the Mulberry brand."

    Over the past year, the company has trimmed its U.S. wholesale business, and opened four freestanding stores in Manhattan; at the Americana Mall in Manhasset, N.Y., and in Los Angeles and Atlantic City.

    The company has boosted its U.S. marketing budget this year to more than $3 million from $500,000, and is planning a multipronged campaign, including ads on New York taxicabs, public relations events and advertising in titles such as Vogue and The New York Times.

    On July 4, the company will host a party at the Hotel Marais to mark the opening of its Paris store on Rue Saint-Honor, near Colette, which will stock the full range of accessories and rtw. Mulberry design director Stuart Vevers will DJ along with Giles Deacon. Models Agyness Deyn and Lily Cole will cohost the party.

    In September, during New York Fashion Week, Mulberry will join forces with the CFDA and Vogue to host a party on the rooftop of the Gramercy Park Hotel. The party will take place before the Marc by Marc Jacobs show. A few days later in London, Vevers and Julie Verhoeven, who has designed a capsule clothing and accessories collection for Mulberry, will host a tea party to kick off London Fashion Week. That party will take place at the Julie for Mulberry pop-up store on Westbourne Grove. The temporary store, which Verhoeven will paint and design with her whimsical prints, will remain for six weeks, after which it will revert to being a Mulberry store.

    The pop-up store will sell Verhoeven's capsule collection for fall, which includes a chiffon dress, a quilted shopper with a gold chain strap, a cotton T-shirt, a scarf and a ring-pull key chain. On an environmental note, Mulberry will give out 5,000 biodegradable, Made in England bags featuring the Julie Verhoeven for Mulberry print, which features a woman's face, a rose and a mulberry leaf.

    Mulberry's total worldwide expenditure on marketing will be $10 million this year. "Our main marketing push has just begun," said Davis. "What we really want is sustained growth in the U.S. and foreign markets."

    The company also has been focusing on building its retail presence and reducing wholesale accounts, both in the U.K. and U.S. The company plans to open a flagship at the Hong Kong Elements shopping center in October, and a Glasgow unit in the fall. The U.K. generates about 51 percent of Mulberry's sales, and Davis said there is scope for good penetration around the world. Although accessories account for 90 percent of revenues, Davis said rtw is still very important.

    "We now have a successful design team in place," he said, referring to Amy Roberts, who was formerly at Ghost and Galliano, and Keith Warren, a designer for Louis Vuitton men's wear.

    Mulberry's latest financial results, released Thursday, show a company in steady growth mode. Sales in the fiscal year ended March 31 grew 4 percent to 54.1 million pounds, or $108.2 million, from 43.4 million pounds, or $86.8 million.

    Retail sales in the U.K. for the first 10 weeks of the current financial year are up by 31 percent, the company said in a statement.

    Profits for the 2006-07 fiscal year dipped 17 percent to 3.9 million pounds, or $7.9 million, from 4.8 million pounds, or $9.6 million. Davis said the drop was due exclusively to one-off tax charges. Pretax profits rose 1.2 percent to 6.2 million pounds, or $12.4 million, from 6.1 million pounds, or $12.2 million.
  3. ^^ Interesting article - thanks
  4. I wish they'll launch a US website so ppl like me that don't have a store near can order online.
  5. Very interesting, thanks for sharing!
  6. Well, you can order online from mulberry.com. The only trouble is the big customs fees you have to pay. :tdown:
  7. At the same time, they closed down all their shops in Germany. I liked the label when it still had the slightly old-fashioned touch and everything was still made in England. I prefer to try on bags in person, and probably won't order from the website. Some big fashion houses now stock some of the designs, but not the whole range, and obviously they opted against the personal relationship with the German customers. Well, I guess access to the US market more than makes up for that.
  8. Thank you.
  9. ^^^No problem. Glad it helped.
  10. Thanks for posting this. Too bad for us...the "on sale" prices at NM and Saks were pretty fabulous...and now...lost forever. We can only hope for a Mulberry outlet soon. Or to make a pilgrimmage to Shepton Mallet when we visit London. I think these are tricky bags to buy -- they are very chunky clunky and you need to try it on IRL before making the purchase.
  11. ITA. I think I need to take the Metroliner to New York and hit the Mulberry boutique, lol!!!
  12. I hope they retrench by making all bags Made in England again.

    Learn from Hermes and other successful Italian brands - either Made in France or Made in Italy. Have to admit I buy on the "French" or "Italian" reputation, so I hope Mulberry keeps the "English" reputation.
  13. That's so true. My husband bought the Elgin Tote for me on sale, which I returned to Saks, and purchased an LV instead. Now, I am kicking myself and I want that tote back. Too bad I can't find them on sale anywhere.
  14. Thank you for posting these very interesting articles. I had definitely noticed (and posted before in another thread a while ago) the Mulberry bags disappearing from stores here lately and it's good to know that it wasn't because they were not selling well in the US.

    However, it's disappointing in a way to me that they've chosen to go this route, with maintaining a somewhat artificially inflated price point and exclusivity when so many of their bags are so expensive at retail and have previously been available at relatively low sale prices in the past. I guess they are trying to position themselves somewhat like LV or Hermes. I am going to be reluctant to buy more Mulberrys if they will always have to be at full retail, because I won't necessarily feel like the value warrants the price. I mean, I do love Mulberry, but $500 for a little wallet?!

    In addition, there is still no Mulberry store yet in my area. I hope that either the stores will have sales (they have to do *something* with the leftover merchandise at the end of the season, so let's hope) or that we'll get some Mulberry outlets here in the US too. Until then, I'm grateful that I did manage to get a few much-loved Mulberry items at great sale prices in the last few years!
  15. I checked last year and they didn't ship to the US. Maybe I was mistaken. I hope they come to the Bay Area soon. There are tons of immigrants from overseas here that love Mulberry bags, because it is well-known in Asia and Europe.