Holster, the Australian brand of luxury thongs, is expanding its footprint in Europe and the rest of the world including the U.S., where it has received the first order from the Nordstrom chain of department stores through its local distributor for the coming spring/summer season. The brand already has a relatively strong presence in department stores in Japan, Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Australia, the U.K. and Europe.
The brand's jelly-filled sandals, embellished by Swarovski crystals and other decorative elements, are also getting orders from new countries all the time. Holster is about to finalize a new contract in China, for example.
Only a few important markets such as Italy, France and South America are not yet covered. The company's chief executive, a former Australian swimming champion by the name of Ben Nothing who founded it in 2001, said that he would be interested in discussing a distribution or licensing agreement for Brazil and other parts of Latin America.
Until a couple of seasons ago, the Italian, German, Austrian and Swiss markets were handled by Euro Brand Management, the Munich-based agency of Luigi Grosso. Another company based in Norway, Fashion Partners, is now the distributor in all the German-speaking countries, throughout the Nordic region and in the Czech Republic and Hungary.
Holster's distribution model in Europe has in fact changed following the strong growth of the business in Europe. Previously, all its sales in the region were conveyed through a distributor based in the U.K., which was stocking the merchandise and taking orders through agents like Grosso in various countries. European distributors now report directly to Holster in Australia.
Since last spring, the market in the U.K. and Ireland has been covered by a new distributor, Esiya, and this has led to a jump in turnover of more than 30 percent. The brand is still sold in upscale department stores in London such as Harrods, Selfridges and Harvey Nichols.
Some of Holster's models are now on sale also in the duty-free shops on cruise ships carrying tourists along the coasts of Norway, Denmark and Sweden. They had been previously introduced aboard some ships in the U.K., Asia, the Pacific islands and Australia.
Holster sandals are sold in more than 2,200 stores around the world. Stronger sales, especially in Europe, Asia and South Africa, led to a rise in the volume of Holster shoes shipped in 2013. It reached a level of about half a million pairs, and a further increase is expected for this year.