The heritage of Rodd & Gunn dates back to 1946 when its first logo, the English Pointer, was used on a boutique line of New Zealand made shirts. The current form of the brand was established in 1987 with the opening of the first standalone store on Queen Street in Auckland. Here, RLI speaks with CEO Mike Beagley to learn more about the brand and what the future holds.
The company takes its inspiration from New Zealand’s picturesque landscape and its philosophy is to create classic garments imbued with contemporary style that are designed to stand the test of time. The result of this is a range of products with integrity sewn into every seam and quality garments which will remain favourites for years to come.
For Rodd & Gunn, each and every season presents a fresh opportunity to celebrate relaxed living. Next-generation fabrics combined with timeless manufacturing techniques produce garments that are as functional as they are fashionable.
Today, the company operates around 130 stores and concessions in New Zealand, Australia, the USA and the UK and is famous for traditionally tailored shirts, high quality knitwear, pants, jeans, classic polo shirts, Italian leather shoes, bespoke leather luggage and stylish accessories.
Due to the current climate and what has happened in 2020, the company has made wholesale changes and completely altered their approach to every part of the business, which has made it a stronger and more resilient company.
“We began this process early,” says Mike Beagley, CEO of Rodd & Gunn. “In February we saw the issues first-hand in Italy and we started preparations to preserve cash and to understand how to survive and more importantly how to operate with zero stores open.”
Despite the challenging conditions Covid-19 has created, the business still launched its largest and most expensive location back in June. More than a store, it is a full Rodd & Gunn experience showcasing New Zealand with a restaurant, bar and full retail offering across 4,200sq ft on Auckland’s waterfront.
Having only been in the UK for a year, their goal is navigate through the challenges that exist in the country whilst concentrating on the US, which Beagley feels is their largest opportunity for growth.
“It has been a challenging year but we have two new store openings set for mid-2021 and we are also seeing a lot of strength with our wholesale customers and we are working to build our brand and maximise sales opportunities for them,” Beagley comments.
Rodd & Gunn are currently working on some very innovative and exciting packages that are on course to release early next year, which could really drive the business strongly across all markets. The strategy is all about experiences through their integrated lifestyle stores that feature retail and hospitality. “Nothing says brand experience more than tasting New Zealand food whilst sipping New Zealand wine and buying our clothes,” explains Beagley.
For a brand with a reach across multiple continents, social media plays an important role in its growth and marketing strategy. While they have made excellent progress in this area in recent times, it remains an important opportunity to be utilised further. Their current strategy in this area is all about experiences and e-commerce, and how this can be amplified by its digital programs.
As a brand that is still relatively small, their growth has been predicated on customer loyalty. Beagley feels that loyalty has been built through hard yards and doing the right thing by its customers at all times. He explains that there are no shortcuts in this arena and that every person in the company understands the importance of every customer.
“Our ethos is aligned with our values and purpose. Our core values are about honesty, integrity and loyalty and our purpose is to make products and create experiences that make our customers feel great. We try to do this whilst not taking the trodden path and doing it our way,” says Beagley.
He feels that their core values include not taking the easy way out and he explains this in terms of expansion. “If we had been based in the northern hemisphere it would have been far easier to be successful internationally, but we continue to fight the tyranny of distance and work hard to try and be successful in all of our markets.”
While this year has been the most challenging for the business, at the same time it has been the most exhilarating year in their history. Through realigning their focus and building a business strategy that they believe can handle disruption and the shocks as they come, they are genuinely excited by the current opportunities and what lies ahead.