The third generation take up the reins at Simone Pérèle… Mathieu Grodner and Stéphanie Pérèle take on the mantle of the French brand in the capacity of Managing Director and Director of Product evelopment respectively. In an exclusive interview, Mathieu Grodner revealed the new strategy that will develop the business and take the company to new heights.
Founded by Mrs Simone Pérèle and her husband Wolf Grodner and subsequently run by their children Philippe Grodner and Catherine Pérèle, it is now the turn of the third generation to head up the family business. Both in their thirties, Mathieu has a background in finance and Stéphanie in fashion and the young heirs have been working in the company for a number of years. They’ve risen within the ranks, acquiring a good understanding of how the business works along the way, and are now well placed to take the reins of the iconic brand.
Mr. Grodner, the period of transition is generally one of the most delicate in a family business. Today, you have taken over responsibility and have announced a significant strategic shift…
This is in actual fact both a strategic and operational shift, and is all part and parcel of a five-year plan we have dubbed “Cap 2019”. It is the result of 18 months of analysis, which has allowed us to establish our main aims and priorities. I started out in the company 10 years ago and have worked in several departments undertaking different positions before starting with the sales team, and then eventually assuming the role of Managing Director. At the same time, my cousin Stéphanie Pérèle joined the product team and is now head of the department.
Will the company remain 100% a family business, or do you see yourself opening it up to the outside investment as a number of your competitors have done?
We are not planning on opening it up to external investors and it will remain 100% a family business.
Can you specify some of the details of your new business strategy?
The plan covers all aspects of the business; it particularly takes into account the necessity to evolve our distribution structure and to implement, according to each region, new complementary growth drivers.
So, will you be opening concession stores?
Our aim is to make Simone Pérèle a stronger and even more attractive brand within the premium multibrand channels. Developing a new retail concept together with some of our partners in specific areas seems necessary in our aim to reinforce the presence of the brand. Our intention is to complement our current distribution in department stores and independent boutiques with a targetted presence in those city centres, where our historic distributors are less present than they used to be.
From an operational point of view we already have over 10 years of experience in concession retailling, which has taught us a lot in terms of distribution. We are approaching this task with a strong sense of commitment and determination.
As you just mentioned, Simone Pérèle has a strong presence on the international markets. Are you continuing your expansion and if so how?
The second generation have already been successful in the brand’s international development, which they started working on more than 30 years ago. Thus, the export turnover represents over 70% of our business. Today, our ambition is to pursue new developments focusing on areas with the highest potential for our brands.
Which are your key target markets?
As a French brand, we must definitely maintain our position in France. Other target markets include North America, Germany, the Middle East and Russia.
What about Asia?
We already have 15 corners in Taiwan and continental China. On the Asian markets the level of maturity is quite heterogeneous and it will take a lot of time and investment to fully establish ourselves. However, we do believe that this is an important area in the long term.
Do you have any specific projects for France?
The French market remains a top priority for us. This is why, for the last two years, we have been working to increase our market share.
How do you plan to proceed?
To lay the foundation for the middle and long term development of the group, we are working on a new retail concept which embodies the key characteristics of the brand. This concept will be tested from 2016 under different formats in department stores and boutiques. Our ambition is to develop it on an international scale with the support of our distributing partners.
We are also working on how to show consumers the value of our products in a clearer way. This means that we need to make our offering stand out on the shop floor. Simone Pérèle has built its reputation on the fit and style of its our products, we must now continue delivering these values to our customers. Furthermore, in 2014 we launched our first swim collection, which allowed us to affirm the brand’s fashion image. We are going to continue in this direction through directmarketing campaigns and a comprehensive digital strategy aimed at growing our market base.
Will you launch an online store?
This is not our sole end goal. We are developing a global digital strategy and an ambitious direct marketing policy. Our main objective is to connect with our historic distributors – department stores and independent boutiques – to leverage growth. This b2b platform will offer our clients an array of new services to attract more customers to the stores. The opening of an e-commerce site will be a subsequent step that will closely associate our independent retailing customers.