Mulberry’s growth path – an exclusive interview with CEO Bruno Guillon

We have recently sat down with Bruno Guillon in London for an exclusive interview to speak about the latest updates on Mulberry and the company’s ambitious future outlook.

After your recent collaboration with Wedgwood for the London Fashion Week, do you plan to collaborate with other British brands?

Any collaborations have always happened organically. Wedgwood were the perfect brand to work with us on producing bespoke teacups for our London Fashion Week invitation. We are working exclusively with iconic British outerwear brand Mackintosh to produce a Mulberry Mac for the Spring Summer 2014 collection. We also collaborate with local artists and talents to support our international store locations.

This year, you seem to have shifted your marketing approach on your British heritage, highlighting craftsmanship and introducing English references in merchandising and visuals. Was your intention to upgrade the positioning of the brand?

Mulberry has a very strong identity as a British brand dedicated to preserving traditional craftsmanship and manufacturing in the UK. Mulberry’s particular heritage, it was founded in the rural English countryside in Somerset where our flagship factory can still be found, is central to its brand identity. We are proud to talk about our support of British manufacturing – our second UK factory is now open and will be at full capacity by next year. For us to be able to say that more and more of our bags are made in Britain gives the brand authenticity, so we are not just relying on our history to justify our identity.

What are your full year expectations?

Continue to build the foundations for future growth.

Most of the major established luxury fashion companies have been increasing their product offering in accessories, especially handbags. They all seem to be seeking to create an ‘it bag’, an area of business which is your expertise. What are your competitive advantages in this respect?

Mulberry produces beautiful leather bags that represent quality and a timeless investment. The Bayswater bag is now ten years old and still one of our best-selling styles. Our customers have told us that they buy Mulberry for it to be a ‘forever bag’ – not something temporarily fashionable.

How has your ready-to-wear evolved in terms of sales and what is your strategy for the future?

We remain committed to the expansion of our ready to wear business, and it has grown substantially over the last few seasons, and forms the basis of our twice-yearly shows at London Fashion Week.

Recently, you have been focusing on mature markets such as Northern Europe the North America, including Canada – rather than Asia or South America. Tell us more about how you view the potential of emerging markets versus mature markets?

Mulberry’s authenticity as a British brand has gained universal appeal over the decades. On the foundation of Mulberry being a UK success story, we want to become a global success story, and we have embarked on a program of store openings in key locations around the world. We think Mulberry’s appeal is its attitude to preserving an authentic British heritage, of craftsmanship and its inherently British personality, and these facets of the brand appeal to international customers in existing and new markets.

In terms of retail expansion, what your approach? What is your view of DOS versus franchising? How do you evaluate the potential of a specific for a DOS or a wholesale distribution?

We want to keep a good balance between DOS (Directly Operated Store) and franchise stores.

How you think luxury relates to lifestyle?

The Mulberry brand has always been about uniting the contrasts of tradition and modernity. We say the brand inspired by ‘the cool of the city and the craft of the countryside’. Our products combine beautiful leather craft traditions with the demands of modern life and style and this is what appeals to our customers.