Over the past eight years, the business has internationalized and now operates in 37 markets, including the US and Asia-Pacific region.
Ben Sherman chief executive Miles Gray said that the UK delivers about half of income. “In about a year, that will change,” he revealed.
Global expansion has allowed Ben Sherman to position itself as a more aspirational label then it had traditionally been in its domestic market, said Gray, who has 22 stores internationally and intends to increase the number to 250 by 2012. “We’re like a wholesaler metamorphosing into a retailer,” he said. He believed there was no conflict between Ben Sherman’s growing retail operations and its international distribution agreements and territory licensing.
Gray was speaking in a panel discussion on international expansion models at the World Retail Congress in Barcelona.
Fellow participant Mohammed Alshaya, chairman of MH Alshaya, which holds franchises for UK retailers including Debenhams and Mothercare, said there were six factors key to the success of a franchise arrangement.
They are: research; brand quality and local market fit; the relationship with the franchise partner; understanding of brand operations; a local strategy and speed.
Inditex international director for Asia-Pacific, Ivan Barbera, said the retailer evaluates potential new markets in four ways: per capita GDP; market size and fashion attitude; likely developments in real estate and import constraints. “If we’re not comfortable with all of them, we won’t go,” he said.
Pei Liang, secretary general of the China Chain Store & Franchise Association, said international retailers were adopting a variety of models when entering China.