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Inside Retail & Klarna

Brand Collective CEO Eric Morris on the bold moves that drive success

Eric Morris knows a thing or two about bold moves. As the former CEO of PAS Group for 17 years, Morris guided the business from voluntary administration in 2020, to private equity acquisition last year, to a merger with Brand Collective this year. 

In his current role as CEO of Brand Collective, he oversees a portfolio of 26 fashion and footwear brands and 15 character licences with a combined annual revenue of more than $600 million – proving that sometimes the biggest moves take patience and perseverance. 

Morris recently shared the key lessons learned from his nearly two-decade retail career for a new video series from Klarna called Bold Moves. The series explores how a range of retail industry leaders have found success by making bold moves. 

You can check out the highlights from Morris’ interview below, or watch the full episode here

  1. Remaining positive is critical

When Covid hit, PAS Group’s working capital was affected, and the business went into voluntary administration even though it was still solvent. But Morris and his team never lost sight of the potential of PAS Group. 

“Remaining positive is absolutely critical,” he said. “I think the team always knew the strength of the business and the opportunities we had. Myself and my senior team are very resilient, and I think that always helps as well.”

  1. Standing still is not an option

According to Morris, having a growth mentality is another key factor for success. This is something he looks for when hiring new staff and fosters across the organisation through regular sessions to talk about the vision for the future. 

“Everyone is excited about growth; nobody likes standing still,” he said. “I certainly believe in these tough times, standing still is really not an option. [It] is actually going backwards.”

It also helps that LK Group, the private equity firm that bought PAS Group and Brand Collective and merged them into one business, is focused on growth. 

“It was a match made in heaven with the attitude that they bring,” he said.

  1. Investing in new technology is key 

Making bold moves can be difficult for large businesses burdened by legacy software. The key to staying nimble is constantly investing in new technology. 

“There’s advancements in technology and new things happening all the time. It’s about selecting what we need and having a base that we can build on,” Morris said.

“The other component is it’s really important to understand at all times that we don’t know everything. We regularly have get-togethers and listen to top inspirational speakers and try to learn all the time. There’s something new happening in our industry, it’s a hugely evolving space and an exciting space.”

  1. Nothing ventured, nothing gained

Since PAS Group merged with Brand Collective, the business has continued to grow, bringing two new brands – Italian denim brand Replay and global sportswear brand Reebok – into the portfolio in a short span of time.

When it comes to balancing risk with reward, Morris believes that businesses shouldn’t be afraid to make mistakes.

“We certainly believe that nothing ventured, nothing gained,” he said. “We are going to make mistakes. For every 10 new opportunities we have, if seven or eight  work, that’s fantastic. We’ll manage those and change where we need to on those that don’t, but if we don’t take the opportunity, we’ll never know. That’s really the attitude that we’ve got.”

Watch the full episode here to learn more about Morris’ career highlights and his advice for retail professionals.