- Danielle Wightman-Stone |
Lingerie brand Boux Avenue has come a long way since launching five years ago, with chief executive Theo Paphitis declaring that the high street brand has “come of age,” and ahead of its busiest time of year Christmas, FashionUnited caught up with him at the brand’s festive campaign launch party to discuss the retailer’s success and ambitions, especially internationally.
“The brand is growing internationally at a fantastic rate in comparison to the UK,” explains Paphitis. “We’ve already got about 18 stores overseas and we just opened our first store in the Czech Republic, and this year we also launched our international website.”
The upgrade to its IT systems earlier this year was a big investment for Boux Avenue, making its e-commerce platform more mobile-friendly, as well as adding an international website.
“When we launched in 2011, we always felt that Boux Avenue was a website with stores. Not stores with a website,” Paphitis told FashionUnited. “It was important that our store representation was in all the major shopping centres in the UK and I think we are just getting there now, and that was always the aim.”
While Boux Avenue may not be planning to open many stores in the UK, Paphitis did add that they have signed up for at least one more UK store, which will open early next year, taking the store count to 30.
“I can’t say exactly where, except that it is in the Midlands, towards the North, where we didn’t already have representation,” Paphitis added. “We originally said we’d target between 25-30 stores in our business plan, and we are there now.”
“When we launched in 2011, we always felt that Boux Avenue was a website with stores. Not stores with a website,”
Boux Avenue targeting international growth
This follows the recent opening in Oxford and the brands first dedicated warehouse and distribution facility in Crewe that spans 90,000 square foot and has 150 staff members. Prior to the opening, Boux Avenue shared a warehouse with Paphitis’ stationery brand Ryman’s that is located next door.
The move into what Paphitis calls its “own place” was due to the lingerie brand’s growth from overseas, which the retailer states is a “focus” to continue to move the brand forward.
Paphitis said: “International, for us, has shown huge growth, delivering all around the world, not just in Europe, but the USA, Australia, New Zealand. You name it, we are doing business there, and hence why we had to build a new warehouse.”
Wholesale is another growth area, the brand has signed deals with Zalando to increase its presence in Germany as well as with US retailer Nordstrom for autumn 2017, after having what Paphitis called “great success” with Very, Lipsy, Littlewoods, Asos and Amazon.
“Wholesale wasn’t actually part of our original business plan, but we’ve had some great success and it is a massive growth area for us,” notes Paphitis.
Boux Avenue unveils Molly King as face of Christmas campaign
Christmas sales are always important for lingerie brands and Boux Avenue is hoping for another successful festive season, for 2016 the brand reported 16.6 percent rise in sales during the holiday period, up from 8.9 percent in 2015.
“The Christmas quarter for Boux Avenue is always huge, it’s huge for gifting and our lingerie is perfect for that,” said Paphitis. “Lingerie throughout the year is a nice purchase, a very personal purchase, however at Christmas more men are buying lingerie as gifts, however, UK lingerie buying habits are very different to Europe.”
Paphitis continues: “In Europe, a man would buy his girlfriend or wife lingerie as a gift instead of flowers or chocolates, in the UK, men only seem to buy lingerie at Valentines, which has grown over the years, and maybe at Christmas time, but they don’t do it throughout the rest of the year. It’s very much part of the changing habits of the men in the UK over Christmas that has boosted sales in lingerie.”
This year the brand is hoping to continue its success at Christmas time with the unveiling of singer and Strictly Come Dancing Star Molly King as its new celebrity face to front its festive campaign, in an advert described by Paphitis as being “fantasical, very fairytale, with the odd unicorn”.
“Molly has been a longtime fan of the brand, so we are super pleased that we were able to make this work,” explains Paphitis. “We did speak to her shortly after we launched but it was unsuccessful, so we are chuffed that she is our face for Christmas.”
Paphitis added: “For us, Mollie simply fits the bill and is a fantastic ambassador for Boux Avenue, being aspirational but relatable.”
When asked if Boux Avenue would every consider going down the celebrity collaboration route with Molly, Paphitis said: “We’ve never really thought about doing a celebrity collaboration, let’s just say that where Molly is concerned all options are open.”
Images: courtesy of Boux Avenue