This luxury handbag maker has been an elegant feature of the British fashion industry since the 1970s, and more recently it has broadened its horizons, expanding into womenswear and opening new stores. Bruno Guillon, a Frenchman with impeccable credentials in the luxury goods industry, most recently at Hermes, was appointed CEO in 2012.
Bruno says: "The Mulberry story is beautiful: you have this brand starting out in 1971 in Somerset that is very English, very consistent and that produces so much of its output in the UK. The business model is amazing – this has been a very profitable, fast-growing business.
"Today’s customer values quality and is very conscious of cost in relation to that"
Bruno Guillon, CEO, Mulberry
"Mulberry has a huge opportunity. We still have 60 per cent of our business in the UK, meaning that the rest of the world is still open to us. We want to build a presence in the US, in Europe and in Asia. In the US and Europe we will do that by opening our own stores, while in Asia we have partners. We have also doubled the size of our product range for men, because men account for 40 per cent of the luxury market.
"I love the heritage that is such a part of the company. We have people who have worked in our factories for 30 years or more, and we have just opened a second factory in Somerset and are hiring 300 people. It is a big commitment to increase our ‘Made in England’ production, but it is something that makes us very distinctive. If you are a French luxury goods brand it is much more difficult to distinguish yourself.
60% of Mulberry’s business is in the UK, giving it a big opportunity to secure customers in other regions
"A lot of brands struggle in fashion, but we are a pillar of London Fashion Week. Fashion is not a big part of the business in terms of turnover, but it feeds the company’s creativity. Everything starts from the ready-to-wear and then spreads to all the other product categories.
"My advice to those starting out is that it is very important to look long term. Today’s customer values quality and is very conscious of cost in relation to that. Think about where you want to position your brand and don’t expect anything to happen immediately."
Region: SW England