Another former Reebok executive in the U.K., Andy Towne, is shaking things up at this British company, known for its very technical sailing apparel, extending the brand into the lifestyle sector and developing its direct-to-consumer sales apparatus. These efforts are mainly concentrated on the U.K. market for the moment, making sure that everything works fine while preparing a similar development abroad.
Musto has annual sales of around £30 million (€33.5m-$45.7m) – half of that in the U.K. – and the brand has been enjoying steady growth recently, but it has been mainly confined to the specialist sailing market. Starting with its fall/winter 2009-10 collection, the company is now trying to make a statement in the sailing-inspired lifestyle segment, adding items that can be worn on the street while featuring technical elements such as mesh ventilation and seamless taping along with classical aspects such as the use of tweeds and leather.
Another British brand, Henri Lloyd, has gone in a similar direction, but Musto wants to appeal to a slightly older clientele, focusing on the 30-to-40-year age group. Its approach has been welcomed by numerous British retailers including some department stores as well as multi-sport chains such as Snow & Rock.
Musto also launched its first transactional website a few weeks ago, accepting orders for the time being only from customers in the U.K., but it plans to roll out its e-commerce internationally. At the same time, it is developing its own network of single-brand stores, with the aim of creating a network of 30 doors. Two new franchises have recently joined Musto, which currently has 12 regular stores and three factory outlets.
Towne sees big opportunities for Musto’s marine casual lines on the European Continent. The brand is already well represented in countries such as Sweden, Spain and Italy. It started a sales subsidiary in France. It recently added distribution in Eastern Europe as well as in Canada. The company would like to enter the U.S., China and Japan at some point.
The new strategies being pursued at this company follow the takeover of Musto in August 2007 by Phoenix Equity Partners, an investment company that has been involved in Jimmy Choo, the fast-growing brand of elegant footwear, and that is now a shareholder in LK Bennett, a large chain of high-end footwear in the U.K.
Just over a year ago, the new owners recruited Towne as managing director of Musto, and he came along with Sarah Lawrenson, formerly in charge of product development at Reebok on a European scale. Towne himself, who worked with Adidas before, was then European marketing director at Reebok. They both left before the recent major reorganization of Reebok’s European operations.