09 Mar Global partnerships
Global Opportunity 2015 | Tesco
F&F, Tesco’s hugely successful clothing range, aims to export its products and reputation for great quality, affordable fashion by opening franchise opportunities with retail partners in new countries, says Richard Price, CEO of F&F
Tesco’s clothing arm F&F was launched in the UK and Ireland in 2001, and has since become one of the UK’s largest volume clothing retailers. As well as selling F&F branded clothing in the UK, the retailer also has franchise businesses in a number of international markets in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, and plans to turn F&F into a major global brand.
CEO Richard Price is a former Managing Director of BHS, and has 25 years’ experience working with some of the biggest clothing multiples in the UK. He is bringing this experience and expertise to bear on Tesco’s plans to expand the F&F global partnerships model in to many more markets.
“We have been really pleased with the way that our franchising business has taken off,” says Richard. “We are currently running in fifteen countries and operating in a number of other markets.
We’ve just opened in Croatia, which has gone off very well, and we are looking to expand as quickly as we possibly can.”
The innovative F&F franchising model sees Tesco working with local partners to bring F&F clothing to customers in a flexible range of settings, including stand-alone stores within shopping malls and units within department stores and hypermarkets.
“F&F has also opened in Germany, partnering with REWE, Germany’s second largest retailer. It is the confidence in the brand and success in launching in some key retail markets that gives F&F it’s world-wide appeal.”
“We are trading in all of the markets that the Tesco brand trades in, and with partners in markets as diverse as Iceland, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam,” explains Richard.
“Our model and approach lays the foundation for our future growth in existing and new markets. Our Managing Director of the Global Partnerships division spends a lot of time networking, building relationships and working out the markets the F&F brand will translate strongly in to perform well in.”
Richard believes the key to F&F’s overseas success is because its strategy around affordable fashion exports so well.
“I think value is important in all markets,” Richard says. “However, affordable fashion, great quality and great customer service is also a vital part of the ingredient within F&F. We basically want to offer the whole package to the markets that we trade in.”
As well as an impressive reputation for good quality, affordable fashion, the F&F brand also has a great reputation for its design and style. Vogue Retail Editor Rose Lander reported on the more recent range, “The collection overall it gets better each year. F&F are setting the style agenda. The brand moves forward each season with such confidence it’s a breath of fresh air.”
And Tracey Lea Sayer, Fashion Director of Fabulous Magazine said: “One of our favourite brands at the magazine, F&F never lets us down. The huge varieties in the collections are fantastic, we have every key summer catwalk in one. The level of quality always stuns me compared to the price point- real aspirational trends.”
So what makes a good franchise partner? “Obviously partners that understand their market well have access to the store locations that will land a successful business for both parties, and ideally have experience of working with other brands on a franchise basis,” explains Richard.
A dedicated F&F franchise team allows partners to benefit from the business’s scale, design, buying and marketing expertise.
The flexibility of the brand means that franchise businesses are supported and grown in market-leading malls, street locations, department stores or hypermarket environments.
“We try and keep the proposition as consistent as possible,” Richard adds. “Obviously we do make tweaks to the range depending on key local market trades within the country we are trading in. There is a small group of people who are responsible for those needs.”
F&F are also careful to ensure the level of customer service from their franchise partners matches up to Tesco standards.
“We are constantly engaging with our franchise partners to ensure they understand the brand integrity and the needs of the brand, and making sure they have the set up to deliver those brand credentials,” says Richard.
“Good store standards, living the brand and making sure that we have a consistency across the world to ensure the integrity of the F&F brand.” Long term, Richard would like to see F&F turn into a major global brand that is recognised throughout the world.
“The F&F franchise is very independent from the UK supermarket business, he explains. “It is about finding the right franchise partners in countries we believe the F&F brand will trade particularly well in, and taking that out to further customers around the world.”
F&F won the Drapers International Retailer Award 2015