In a classic retail Cinderella tale, New Zealand menswear label Barkers has grown from a small outlet under the Victoria Street car park in Auckland’s High Street in 1972 to now having 26 stores around the country.
Whilst being 42 years old (that’s about 128 in human years), the brand certainly qualifies as one of New Zealand’s most innovative.
Managing director Jamie Whiting says trying to pick the 2014 Barkers innovation he is most proud of is “a tough question”.
It signed the Topshop franchise, opened Barkers largest flagship ever, launched a new stock control system, “and a ton of other projects”, he says.
Busy indeed. While Barkers does not disclose any of its financials, Whiting says financially 2014 was “a very good year”.
The company currently has about 200 staff across 26 retail shops plus its online store.
While Barkers was early to the e-tailing game the online store has not yet topped sales in its busiest brick-and-mortar establishments, Whiting says.
“In terms of ranking our online store would rank in the top six out of 27 stores, so it is a substantial business, however to put that in perspective store sales substantially outweigh online sales,” he says.
Ninety-five percent of Barkers’ sales come from retail stores, and just 5 percent from online, Whiting says.
“We see a future where online will be our number one store, but even at that level it will still represent only ten to fifteen percent of total business.”
But Whiting says the key thing in retail is to stay relevant, and this means every single aspect of the business should be as good as both local and global competition.
“Competition has always been around for ever, and its survival of the fittest…there is no time to sit still and smell the roses in this industry.”
This story was originally published in NZRetail magazine issue 736, March 2015.