Thomas Pink bets its shirt on growth in SA

Thomas Pink, the exclusive British clothing brand, has arrived in South Africa as it seeks growth in emerging markets.

Speaking ahead of today’s official launch of its first local store, Thomas Pink merchandising, buying and distribution director Melanie Traub said: “We are looking to expand internationally” and further stores would be opened in South Africa, although the locations had not been finalised.

The renowned retailer of finely crafted shirts for men and more recently for women, is part of leading luxury goods group LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.

It has opened stores in other emerging markets such as Mexico and has plans to move into India. At its new South African store, located in the upmarket retail centre Hyde Park Corner, its target market of wealthy business people can purchase shirts for between R1 295 and R3 200 apiece.

To help it navigate the South African market, Thomas Pink has partnered with McCullagh & Bothwell, which has been supplying high-end luxury men’s clothing to South Africans for 116 years and is still run by descendants of Sam Bothwell, one of the founders.

Mickey Walker, a McCullagh & Bothwell managing executive, said the launch of Thomas Pink in South Africa followed nearly two years of discussions between the two partners. Walker said the response to the launch store had been “very encouraging”, which showed the demand for a quality formal shirting brand like Thomas Pink in South Africa, and tapped into the heart of the company’s growth strategy in launching here in the first place.

“Emerging markets like ours have a real appetite for luxury clothing brands, and Thomas Pink’s early signs of local success proves that,” Walker said.

At least one more store has been planned for Gauteng, with Durban and Cape Town also being potential future locations.

The brand’s flagship stores are in London’s famous Jermyn Street; Madison Avenue, New York; and Rue Francois Premier, Paris. There are currently more than 90 Thomas Pink stores worldwide, including in Mexico, Dubai, Hong Kong, Australia, China and Canada.

Traub said Europe’s crisis had not affected Thomas Pink as much as other retailers, which she attributed to the business sticking to its core brand standards of high quality business shirts, mainly for men. “We have not gone into mass discounting,” she said.

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