Earlier this week Oliver Sweeny took its first order outside of the UK for its Spring/Summer collection of footwear. The account is an independent retailer in the USA, and the British men’s footwear and clothing company hopes it will be followed by many others around the world.
But for now, the USA is the company’s top priority for international expansion. Working with a sales agent in New York City, Ju Ju, Oliver Sweeney is retaining a studio in the city to display its ranges to prospective U.S. customers. It is speaking with Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, and would like to develop a presence in U.S. department stores in addition to independent retailers in the country. The company is also searching for a good piece of real estate in New York City for its first single-brand store in the country, possibly by next Fall.
The company is named after its founder, Oliver Sweeney, who suffered a stroke last May. He brought in Andrew Marshall as new managing director last December to spearhead the company’s expansion outside of the UK. Marshall was recruited from a hotel supply company after spending four years in Japan and gaining experience in the luxury goods sector with companies like Gucci.
Marshall recently appointed a former colleague, Cristina Abriani, to help him with the expansion into Italy, where she is already speaking to prospective agents in her newly created role of international sales manager. Marshall will also be working with a former Gucci colleague, Paul Woods, on a consultancy basis. Next March the company will focus its efforts on tapping into the Italian market, where its footwear is made, displaying it for the first time at MICAM in Milan.
In the UK, where the company has about 60 wholesale accounts, Oliver Sweeney has just opened a large flagship store on London’s New Bond Street with1,300 square feet of retail space coupled with a 1,000-sq.-ft. showroom and some office space. It already has three other stores in the UK, plus concessions in Harvey Nichols department stores.
The company says it grew by 15 percent in its 2006 financial year, ended Sept. 30. With the new accounts outside of the UK as well as the addition of the flagship store, sales growth should exceed 40 percent in the current financial year.