Charles Tyrwhitt endeavours to produce the finest menswear that never compromises on quality. Added to this is an exemplary level of customer service, fantastic prices and a product that is built to last. Here, RLI speaks with CEO Luke Kingsnorth to discuss the past, present and future of the brand.
Owner Nicholas Charles Tyrwhitt Wheeler; started the brand back in 1986 because he felt he could make a better shirt than anyone else. Since its origins 33 years ago, the company has made a commitment to ensure all its menswear is designed for longevity, using only the fi nest materials sourced from every corner of the globe, as well as local producers from here at home in Britain.
Through the years the business has expanded from this core product of shirts to include everything from formal shirts to separates, suits and shoes along with a casual collection, knitwear and accessories. Today the company operates 41 stores in total, 27 of these are in the UK, with 13 in the US and one in Paris, France. “In the past year we’ve had some good international growth, the UK has been tougher with all the uncertainty in the country at the moment, but overall we’ve held steady in the market,” explains Luke Kingsnorth, CEO of Charles Tyrwhitt. “In terms of the perception of the brand, we’ve done a lot of work on improving this and focusing on the product quality and value proposition, and there is more to come in this fi eld in the coming 12 months.”
Six new stores have been opened in the US in the last year as the company gains a foothold in the American market. New locations have opened in Houston, Philadelphia, a second location opened in Chicago, two stores around the suburbs of New York and the first outlet store opened in Wrentham, Massachusetts. While store growth may have been US centric recently, the company has still launched an additional two outlet stores in the UK. Outside of these core locations, the brand’s other key markets are Germany, Australia, Canada and Ireland, and while they do not have any physical presence in these countries, they have a successful and direct online business.
Looking forward, there are two main development goals for Charles Tyrwhitt. The fi rst of these is product development. “The focus over the next 12 months will be about relaunching our trousers range, expanding our range of separate’s jackets and business casual shirts to hep cater to this changing trend of what people are wearing to work,” says Kingsnorth. “The other development arm is focused on brand positioning, so we are doing a lot of work on our creative execution and how we portray these fantastic products. We are looking at the website design, the catalogues, our point-of-sale materials in store and everything else that communicates these products to our customers.”
The Charles Tyrwhitt product development team is headed up by Spencer Riley in the London office, and he is consistently talking to manufacturers and analysing the market for current and future trends, assessing what the customer wants now, and predicting what they will want in 18 months’ time. Recent examples of new products and initiatives are the stretch and cool products which came about from their time looking at the athleisure market, and the stretch and cool products are designed to help people feel comfortable and allow them to stay cool when it’s hot in summer. The offer under both of these banners has expanded and will continue to do so over the coming months.
Kingsnorth feels the advent of social media offers the company a great opportunity to have a conversation with its customers and it is a mix of their marketing mix, albeit a much more important part than it was five years ago. “We are planning to put more effort into it as it becomes more important in our customers lives and it’s a great channel for us to talk about the fantastic products that we’ve got on offer,” explains Kingsnorth.
A key differentiator for Charles Tyrwhitt is the product quality and offer, according to Kingsnorth. The product quality is second to none, and the fit and multiple fits that they can offer mean customers will get a great quality product that’s going to fit them perfectly. The company can hold many more sizes in its warehouse than you can fit in say, a 2,000sq ft store so customers can get products delivered to home from the store if their size is not currently in stock. And finally, what lies ahead for the company? “We want to make sure we’re serving our customers in whatever channel they want to operate in, in a seamless a way as possible and offer a fantastic quality product at the best price,” concludes Kingsnorth.