Talking shop: Mike Beagley, Rodd & Gunn
Welcome to Talking shop, a weekly series where we interview the head of a New Zealand retail business about their growth plans and challenges, and get their thoughts on the latest business trends.
This week, we’re featuring our interview with Mike Beagley, the long-time chief executive of menswear brand Rodd & Gunn. The retailer has been growing its overseas business, having opened several stores in the US and recently opening its first ‘lodge’ in the UK.
Inside Retail New Zealand: How is your US business doing? How many lodges do you have there now? Any plans for further expansion – online or stores?
Mike Beagley: We have nine lodges now in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego [California], Seattle [Washington], Dallas [Texas], Brooklyn [New York] and Greenwich [Connecticut]. We have three more lodges signed and we expect to grow at two to three a year for the foreseeable future.
Our e-commerce is growing strongly and is a crucial part of our business but the biggest part of our US business is wholesale. We have a large presence in Nordstrom and are growing strongly in Neiman Marcus and just launching in Bloomingdales and 100 independent customers US-wide.
IRNZ: A lot of brands struggle with international expansion. What has been key to Rodd & Gunn’s success in going overseas?
MB: Persistence, commitment and a huge amount of hard work.
IRNZ: What’s on the agenda for the New Zealand market over the next year or so?
MB: Big year ahead in NZ with two landmark lodges. First is our flagship in Newmarket which was our largest turnover store in the company prior to it being closed down for redevelopment. We have high hopes that this will be the case again until we open our Commercial Bay flagship lodge and The Lodge Bar and Dining in March next year.
Mike Beagley, Rodd & Gunn
Hospitality is not a business for the faint-hearted and we could have outsourced it, but by managing it ourselves we have learned a lot
IRNZ: I know Rodd & Gunn has tapped into experiential retailing with ‘The Lodge Bar’. Do you think this trend is still growing?
MB: As above we are opening a 400sqm lodge and The Lodge Bar and Dining in downtown Auckland in the new Commercial Bay development. This will take all the learnings we have had from our Queenstown The Lodge Bar and ramp it up.
Hospitality is not a business for the faint-hearted and we could have outsourced it, but by managing it ourselves we have learned a lot and we can now expand to where it makes sense. We ultimately see The Lodge Bar and Dining concepts with our flagship lodge in all the major markets we operate in.
IRNZ: Can you talk a bit about how Rodd & Gunn sees its online and bricks-and-mortar stores working together? Are there any projects you’re working on in this area?
MB: We have moved our e-commerce customer support out of our offices to our lodges and we now operate an e-Lodge concept where all customer service is operated by lodge-based customer support team members.
They are based in our lodges in New York, Auckland, Melbourne and London. This gives us global coverage and 24/7, 365 days-a-year customer support. We have a single view of our customers and whether they shop online or in lodges in any country we operate them, we don’t differentiate how, where or when they shop.
IRNZ: Lastly, you’ve been CEO for over 18 years. What are some of your top tips for being a successful leader?
MB: Passion and keeping things moving. Although my team might beg to differ on whether I am successful or not.
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