(Filed Under wholesale Basics News). Since taking over as Hanro USA’s president in September 2008, Jan Snodgrass has worked with the Swiss company’s European offices to improve its infrastructure. And his efforts are working, he told BODY during a July 30th conversation in the company’s New York City showroom.
“We perform much better than we used to and fulfill our promises,” Snodgrass remarked. “Our shipping is much more efficient. Retailers can rely on us to ship to them in a timely manner, and this is with less people.” The company has been able to improve efficiency, he said, by implementing upgraded technological systems.
Although Hanro, like most other manufacturers, has felt the effects of the recession, Snodgrass believes that measures taken in the last year have allowed the company to stay “in pretty good shape,” he said. “We started working on efficiency and cutting down costs in 2008 [even before the recession hit].”
As a luxury daywear, sleepwear, loungewear and basics brand for men and women with wholesale prices ranging from approximately $14 to $98 and retail prices of approximately $32 to $215, one would think that Hanro would be particularly hard-hit by the economic slow-down. But, according to Snodgrass, the brand still has its place in this tough climate due to its hard-to-match quality. Although he admitted that the company has lowered prices on select styles, pricing remains fairly steady.
“Hanro is well-spent money and the brand still has value in the recession,” he said. “We are actually well set-up for the recession because we make good quality, long-lasting, investment pieces. People know that their Hanro items will last for many, many years. This has helped us because our product is less risky for retailers than many others. We are a well-respected brand with styles that are timeless rather than trendy; the pieces we are making now will be in fashion for years to come.”
Melinda Wojcieszak, co-owner of Bloom Lingerie in Hingham, Mass., agrees. Since opening in October 2008, Hanro has become one of the boutique’s best-selling brands. “Hanro sells itself,” she said. “People are so excited that we carry the brand; they don’t have to go to Bloomingdale’s or Saks or Nordstrom to find it anymore, they can come into our little shop and buy it. One of my customers told me she still has a Hanro piece she bought back in college.”
And the company has 125 years of experience under its belt to prove that it is worth every penny, which Snodgrass said adds to its integrity. “People trust Hanro for its proven workmanship,” he said. Women’s sizes run from XXS to XL depending on the collection, with bras running in cup sizes A through D. Men’s underwear and sleepwear runs from S to XXXL and wholesales for $16 to $54, with retail prices running from $35 to $120.
Also exceptional, he said, is the brand’s fit. “It is not easy to get pants to fit they way our pants fit. We put a lot of effort into getting this just right.”
Consumers purchasing Hanro can be assured that they are buying authentic European product, Snodgrass said. The company’s parent, Austrian-based Huber AG — which employs a staff of 850 — manufactures 90 percent of Hanro’s product at its own European mills dedicated to Hanro, with only 10 percent outsourced to China. 100 percent of product is made from European textiles produced by Huber, whose textiles division also produces fabrics for other European brands.
In honor of its 125th anniversary, Hanro introduced a display in the window of Saks Fifth Avenue’s Manhattan location this month. Included are styles from Hanro’s Anniversary collection titled Collection De Luxe, which consists of retro-inspired loungewear and lingerie, mixed with contemporary pieces. Also displayed are archived Hanro styles from the 1920’s and 1930’s, which Snodgrass showed to BODY. The styles spoke to Snodgrass’ claims about the brand’s durability; they appeared as well restored as some of the brand’s newer styles on display in the showroom.
In addition to Saks, Hanro can be seen at major high-end department stores including Neiman Marcus; Bergdorf Goodman; Bloomingdale’s; and Nordstrom, as well as specialty lingerie boutiques nationwide. In the women’s market, Hanro is currently in 165 department stores and 210 specialty stores nationwide. Men’s underwear and sleepwear can be seen in 46 department stores and 51 specialty stores nationwide. In all, U.S. sales make up 40 percent of total company sales, and Snodgrass plans to continue building the brand’s American presence while staying true to its loyal clientele.
“We are planning on going wider in terms of doors, and are focusing on getting to know our customer base better as opposed to seeking out a new type of consumer,” Snodgrass said. “It is important, as a company, to focus on who you are, what you do best, and to stay true to your brand and to your customers.”
Although Hanro’s design team is based in Europe, Hanro USA includes 34 total staff members. In order to stay in tune with the American physique and market, the design team frequently travels to the United States to meet with the sales team and the retail trade. “We are very sensitive to the U.S. needs,” Snodgrass remarked.
This sensitivity to U.S. needs has not yet meant taking the plunge into plus sizes, an increasingly popular market in this country, but, Snodgrass expects that the company will increase its sizing once they have mastered the art of designing and manufacturing plus sizes.
“The thing about producing larger sizes, and especially producing larger cup sizes, is we will not begin doing it until we feel comfortable with our ability to do it perfectly,” he said. “But I see plus sizing in Hanro’s future.”
For further information, call Hanro USA at (732) 935-1100, or e-mail Jan Snodgrass at Jan.Snodgrass@HanroUsa.com.
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