33 Joints, the eight-year-old British footwear company run by Malcolm Nathan and his son Anthony, is taking on new licenses and new distribution contracts for the U.K. and for the whole European market thanks to the financial backing of Samsung. Acting through a U.K.-based subsidiary, Samsung C&T UK, the big Korean conglomerate is providing the financing for the collections, paying the factories and handling the logistics, while collecting the payments of the 33 Joints' clients and an unspecified fee.
The process is similar to the FLA system that Cortina, the big Belgian-based trading company, introduced about ten years ago. Samsung has been running it already in the U.S. for about ten years, concentrating on footwear and apparel, and 33 Joints is one of its first clients in Europe.
The system allows 33 Joints to concentrate on product development and sales, without the financially worries of the past. Thanks to the new arrangement, 33 Joints has been able to obtain a European footwear license for Original Penguin, the American lifestyle brand owned by Perry Ellis International, which had been previously handling the European footwear business on its own. 33 Joints will be working with agents in France and Germany, and it is looking for new ones in the Benelux, where it was previously relying on a distributor.
The company has also taken on the distribution in the U.K. for Zaxy, the trendy brand of sandals by Grendene (see the following story in this issue), starting with spring/summer 2015. The Nathans are about to finalize another pan-European contract and are open for other new opportunities.
Pressure from a bank had forced 33 Joints and a subsidiary to drop half a dozen other brands including Feud, Xti, Native, Golddigga, Rubber Duck & Cover. Prior to the creation of 33 Joints, Malcom Nathan had a long history in the European shoe sector, being responsible for British Knights, Caterpillar, Paul Smith and Patrick Cox. 33 Joints continues to act as European footwear licensee for Blowfish Malibu. It got back Firetrap last year.
With the new contracts in hand, the Nathans hope to see the company's turnover jump by 60 percent to around £20 million (€25.02m-$33.56m) this year, and to grow a further 50 percent in 2015, catching up with the level of £27 million that it had reached in 2010.