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Like many travel goods retailers, Mon Purse was hit hard by Covid-19 last year. International border closures left it with an oversupply of travel bags and accessories that it couldn’t clear, causing it to collapse in December 2020.
The business was pulled back from the brink of liquidation by an existing investor, US-based private equity firm Partners for Growth, and Australian turnaround firm Olvera Capital, which acquired the brand’s assets in February and carried out a significant restructure.
Now with a new name, simpler customisation offer, and digital-only approach, Moore believes Mon Purse is positioned for sustainable growth going forward.
From Mon Purse to Mon
The name change from Mon Purse to Mon is the most visible sign of the recent restructure. It is part of a broader strategy to make the brand more male-friendly.
“We have a lot of male customers who have bought into the brand from an accessories perspective, and we think we can extend that market further,” said Moore, who led The Iconic’s menswear business from 2014 to 2017.
The new name is currently reflected on the website and will be rolled out across products and marketing in the coming months.
“We don’t want to change too much all at once,” Moore said. “We will look to have everything [rebranded as] Mon by mid-next year.”
This can be seen in the current range of leather phone cases, makeup pouches, handbags, and travel bags, which are in keeping with the brand’s previous designs.
But one of the brand’s defining features, the ability to custom design a handbag from top to bottom, is no longer available.
“In reality, does the customer want to wait six to 12 weeks for an item [to be customised]? Maybe occasionally. But in our view, it’s not a long-term sustainable model,” Moore said about the decision to move away from the design-your-own approach.
Instead, the business is focusing on more straightforward personalisation options for now.
“We currently offer complimentary hot-stamp embossing in multiple fonts and multiple foils and colours,” he said. “That is something we know the customer likes because 90 per cent of our product range leaves our fulfilment centre with a monogram.”
Moore is open to the possibility of introducing further personalisation options in future, as long as they don’t hold up production.
“We think there’s an opportunity to personalise in ways that don’t mean a bag has to be completely built for you offshore and then shipped into the country, which may take three months,” he said.
“Whether it’s buying a bag and then being able to buy multiple straps in different fabrications and colours to be able to freshen up in your wardrobe.”
Online-only sales model
Before it collapsed, the brand was operating concessions in Myer, Selfridges, and Bloomingdales, and had its own bricks-and-mortar store in Sydney, but now it is selling online-only.
“We’re building a direct-to-consumer online model, so we don’t have additional markups and margins for retail stores, wholesale partners and middlemen along the way,” Moore explained.
This has allowed the brand to adjust its pricing structure. Moore describes the price point as being premium, but not inaccessible.
“We offer items from $25 all the way through to $500 for a fully pebbled leather travel bag,” he said.
Looking ahead, Moore is interested in collaborating with other brands.
“Whether it’s doing activations in independent retail stores that we really love, where people can personalise their goods on the spot, or digital partnerships with international partners, such as Farfetch, we see a lot of great opportunities,” he said.
But he’s not in any rush to do so.
“We’re very fortunate, in that we don’t need to make a quick dollar. We’re here to build something sustainable for the longer term,” he said.
Mon Purse was founded by Australian entrepreneur Lana Hopkins in 2014. Backed by prominent investors, including Catch co-founder Gabby Leibovich, the online retailer sold $8 million worth of leather goods a year at its peak.
Hopkins left the business in 2018, and Mon Purse was then led by Andrew Shub, its largest shareholder, until its collapse last year.