Report from the company visit of BS4F team to Replay Headquarters, Asolo that was held on November 27th
On 27th of November, the BS4F team routed to Asolo, where the Replay Headquarters are located. When we arrived, we were shocked by the architecture; it felt like we were somewhere in America! The American vibes continued also inside. The Replay team gave us an extremely warm welcome; not figuratively, they were nice enough to give us a fresh breakfast. Our company visit started with a brief history; Claudio Buziol founded the remarkable apparel company in 1981. It is a “complete company” in the sense of a worldwide coverage and multiple categories offered. Quoting the HR team; Replay is a brand selling premium apparel, positioned in the “sweet spot” between fast fashion and luxury. It is a huge company with 1800+ employees including 330+ in the headquarters. They are present in 30 countries including UK, The Netherlands, Greece, France, Japan. Their competitors are same level brands such as Guess and Diesel; which we later learned that the founders were friends before!
After these basic infos, our journey on discovering Replay started with the wholesales department. The wholesales director informed us briefly on the stats: 70% of revenues come from prebook while 30% is replenishment. The prebook system is all about sell-in. The clients (stores) can prebook pieces that are showcased on sale campaigns. Like high-fashion brands, Replay follows a 2-launch calendar: Autumn-Winter, Spring-Summer. The other method, the replenishment system considers a never-out-of-stock deal. The orders are made in advance and the risk is on the client. Their sales force is made of agents, distributors and direct sales. In every country there are different models followed, however Replay is extremely considerate about customer service and keeps it centralized. The wholesales director says; “what gets you to success is a direct link with consumers”. He also adds that client portfolio is the most valuable asset of a company, underlining the importance of company-customer relationship. He also refers to the evolution of the fashion market; how the market became more sell-out focused rather than sell-in. To put this in simple words, nowadays companies are not concerned about how to support clients (stores) with products but rather how to support them to sell. The internet is boosting the competition with increasing online sales. He also adds that nowadays, street store sales are decreasing more and more since people prefer internet where they can get more information on the product.
To inform us on product development, the product director gave us a speech. He underlined some points that every person interested in fashion industry should live by. “Base your carrier on your values,” he said, regardless of the company, a fashion sector employee works with various cultures, visions and your values together with your vision is what makes you, you. “It is important to have something to say,” he added highlighting the importance of vision in this passion-driven field. When it comes to his specialty, the product, he underlines that everything is connected to it. There should always be a reason to buy. Their bestseller jeans is this model called “Hyperflex”. With a premium price of 159 €, Hyperflex definitely gives consumers a reason to buy with its super-stretch feature and soft touch. Creation of a season consists values and cooperation; all teams deal with it. It starts with observing the market and street. Later on designers, who he calls “gifted”, create a moodboard creating the marginality and style of the season. This is the distinguishing factor. When a new product is designed and created, some samples are sent and according to the feedback the company orders fabrics. Working with different geographies and cultures you have to be flexible. Regarding the fact that one season takes 1,5 years to be completed, there are many voices and visions included. The director ends his speech saying “let people see what you see; that is the key”.
The next speech was from public relations and marketing department, a really popular one in the age of social media. The first thing you care about when you are managing a brand’s communication is the brand image. The heritage of the brand is extremely important: what does it represent? In Replay’s case, the brand identifies with a far west, biker and dreamer image with ultimate American vibes. Media coverage is important for a brand; the goal is to create brand-consumer interactions as much as possible. Replay had endorsements with EMAs, creating a Replay award and dressing hosts in custom Replay outfits. Furthermore, the brand dresses influencers in events such as Glastonburry Festival and organizes events to attract media. One of the most important categories of events is collection presentation. Clients, potential clients, distributors and influencers are invited to these events, the summer editions are held in cool places such as Mykonos. The goal is to show new collection, increase brand loyalty and gain publicity. For example, events’ invitations are sent according to importance of the market, for instance since Chinese market is strong, most invitations are sent to Chinese clients. Marketing methods include ads such as commercial videos, billboards and outdoor placements. Innovation is important to be strong in the rapidly changing fashion industry; embracing the change, Replay uses different concept stores such as The Stage to enforce innovation. The PR team adds that the most important element is to know what you want to convey and transmit it through the best possible approach regarding the used language, visuals, events etc.
The next speaker was the CFO of the company. Replay is connected to Fashion Box SPA which also manages We Are Replay and Replay&Sons. He informed us briefly on the administration, since Replay is a worldwide company they have many subcategories in finance management. An interesting one was the Entertainment box; how Replay opened The Stage, which is a restaurant to transform retail experience to a lifestyle of retail.
Last but not least, the head of the internal team of control department gave us a short speech. This team is dedicated to the information transmitted in the company. They are in charge of all data for budgeting and forecasting purposes. They translate bundles and bundles of data to useful information for the interest of the company. Listening what the team does was an interesting take on the modern world, with a world full of data it is important to translate these unexplained numbers to information and lastly to decision.
After the speeches we left Replay headquarters with our minds full of brand new information and our stomachs full of delicious food they offered. Thank you Replay team for their hospitality!