Leisurewear International is the business behind the Minoti children’s clothing brand, which is rapidly becoming a major international success story. The parent company has been in existence since 1998 and grew its business by making a range of adult and children’s clothing for retailers like TKMaxx and Next, under those labels. But in early 2015, the decision was made to focus on Minoti and its babywear extension Babaluno, and grow these brands both in the UK and overseas.
Yamin Ibgui, the Finance Director, explains: “For many years we designed and developed brands and ranges for retailers. But we want more than that now. We are focused and driven to develop our own brands and that’s where we are now. From 2015 we have mainly designed and developed our brands, so we can be more independent. We aim to have a full Minoti range by the end of 2017 – everything from clothes to shoes and accessories. Our mission is for Minoti to be a one stop shop. We’re starting to implement that up to age eight, but in time the ambition is to go up to age 13.”
Growing the Minoti business isn’t just about building the brand, it’s about becoming a fully-fledged retail operation, from stores, to stock, to distribution. One way the company is doing this is by expanding its franchise operations: “As well as five Minoti shops in the UK there are now five franchise outlets in China, and four in Venezuela. Two will be opening soon in Pakistan, and we think the Middle East will be really big for us. We’ve also had enquiries from as far afield as Azerbaijan, Colombia, Dubai, Iran, and Libya.”
Leisurewear’s export strategy is reflected by two thirds of family businesses in the UK, currently exporting their goods or services (up from 61% in 2014 and higher than the global average). When choosing new export markets, economic and political stability followed by the size and growth potential of the country are the key considerations for Leisurewear. This mirrors 71% of UK family businesses who ranked economic and political stability as the main factor in deciding which existing countries and/or new countries they will sell their goods and services to in the next 5 years, followed by size/growth potential (51%).
Yamin Ibgui, continues: “managing the financial aspects of doing business in some of those countries is very challenging.”
Leisurewear is also making use of agents in some markets: Damian Curran, the UK and European Sales Executive believes that this approach “is a good route for Leisurewear – they’re representing us in the Netherlands and in Spain, which has started growing again now that the economy is picking up, and we’re looking at how we replicate that model elsewhere in Europe – Denmark, Switzerland, Germany, France. Also in the US, eventually. Over the next year I’d like to see our overseas sales via the agents to grow to around £1m and after that, who knows?”
Digital is another growing area, as Damian explains: “We’ve started selling through Amazon. That has its own challenges but when it works, it works really well. It’s a massive marketplace and I’d like to get to the stage where they’re doing all the fulfilment for us – in other words, they store, pack, pick, and deliver. We want to grow our own online shopping too, but at the moment the site is more about building the brand, if I’m honest. But that’s really important, and we’re backing it up by doing a lot more with the specialist bloggers, who are real trendsetters when it comes to teen clothing. In this game, you absolutely have to keep up with trends.”
About the piece - this piece was featured as part of the PwC Family Business Survey.
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