Hunter taking steps to become a global lifestyle brand
Hunter Boot’s sales were up 17% year-on-year in 2014 to £95.7m, boosted by the success of new product categories such as the Hunter Original Slide and significant spending on multiple divisions of the business.
During a period of strong investment, the British footwear retailer bet on a new multi-language, multi-currency e-commerce platform, key hires, IT systems and operational infrastructure. It also established a Joint Venture with Japanese trading giant Itochu to develop the brand in the key Japanese market.
In November, the 160 year-old company opened its first flagship store on London’s Regent Street, a three-floor shop designed as a contemporary take on an English country garden.
The lifestyle brand has plans to open a store in Ginza, Tokyo in February next year and another in New York by the end of 2016. Much of Hunter’s business is still wholesale but having a physical presence in prime locations gives Hunter more power over its image.
“We’ve never owned our own retail space…but the only place you can have control over people’s experience of the brand is in your own shops and digital channels, so for Hunter that’s really important,” Creative Director Alasdhair Willis told Creative Review. “We’ve also started a lot of work with retail partners to make sure the experience in their stores is being lifted to a level that I feel is closer to what I would expect. We want to make sure we have a clear, coherent, defined brand message.”
Willis, who was brought on board in early 2013 has focused his efforts on separating Hunter’s products into key lines, retaining the traditional customers who seek performance-based products as well as new, younger customers who are trend-led and festival-goers. He is also responsible for putting Hunter on the map at London Fashion Week, which before his arrival, had not previously presented its collections on stage.
“During 2014, we made significant progress in further developing Hunter from a single product business into a global lifestyle brand,” commented CEO James Seuss. We invested in the Direct to Consumer side of the business, opening our first flagship store in London and launching a new EU e-commerce platform, while at the same time we increased profit. The brand segmentation strategy set out by the business in 2013 is now in place with strong sell-through of new Hunter Original product categories, and the introduction of our new line, Hunter Field. We are currently on track to deliver further growth in 2015.”