New Zealand menswear brand Rodd & Gunn has opened one of its trademark ‘lodges’ in London’s Mayfair neighbourhood in a bid to build brand awareness in the UK, its third largest market after ANZ and the US, and to serve as a launching pad for further expansion into Europe.
The store opened on Friday, August 23, with the brand’s full range of clothing, footwear and accessories and a “Pointer parade”, underlining its longstanding connection to the UK market: Rodd & Gunn’s logo has been an English Pointer since 1946.
But despite this, and the fact that the brand was already available online in the UK, Rodd & Gunn CEO Mike Beagley said it would still take time to raise brand awareness in the market.
“We believe having a flagship store in the centre of London will give us huge visibility and establish our brand. However, like we have experienced in the US, it takes a long time to build a brand, so it will be a case of telling our stories and building our brand awareness over a long period of time,” Mike Beagley, Rodd & Gunn CEO, told Inside Retail New Zealand.
Direct-to-consumer retail is just one aspect of Rodd & Gunn’s expansion strategy in the UK. The brand also plans to grow its British wholesale business, and has found space for a showroom, office and fulfilment centre (for online orders) on a level below the Mayfair store, located near Regent Street, a major shopping street in London.
Like Rodd & Gunn’s other ‘lodges’ around the world, the new store references the New Zealand landscape and a commitment to craftsmanship and customer service in its design, while other elements are tailored to the space itself.
“In shopping malls we create a home away from home environment. However, in freestanding buildings like our London lodge we are very sympathetic to the building and let that speak rather over engineer or overbuild the store,” Beagley said.
The heritage brand now has a bricks-and-mortar presence in five markets, including New Zealand, Australia, the US, Canada and the UK, and further expansion into Europe is on the agenda.
“The time is right for Rodd & Gunn to establish a foothold in Europe, and to start with a beautiful location within metres of Regent Street, often regarded as the epicentre of London retail, puts concrete beneath its promise,” Beagley said in a statement about the store launch.
Nearer to home, Rodd & Gunn plans to open two new stores in New Zealand over the coming months, including the reopening of its flagship in Auckland’s Newmarket shopping centre and a new location in the city’s Commercial Bay development.
Rodd & Gunn’s Commercial Bay store will also be home to its second in-house restaurant called The Lodge Bar and Dining. This follows the opening of the original The Lodge Bar in Queenstown in 2016.