UK Country Manager Richard Mazzega-Ward explained to SGB the plans for the brand’s growth in the UK, and why they’ve opened a shop in London’s prestigious Carnaby Street. The shop covers almost 2,000 square feet and boasts all Eastpak lines including Authentic, Core Series and a lot more…
SGB: Why open a shop now? Is this not economically a particularly difficult time to be launching such a project?
Richard Mazzega-Ward: We have a global retail strategy and London is a key city from a global positioning point of view. It sends a very strong message out to the market place both from a retail and a consumer perspective. One of the other advantages is to showcase our full collection of product ranges from packs to travel to apparel and be recognised as a lifestyle brand and not just a bag brand. Initial reaction with less than a week’s trading has been extremely positive.
SGB: What are Eastpak hoping to achieve with the store and with the brand in the UK? How are they going to achieve it?
RMW: The whole purpose is brand building  and to spread the right message that Eastpak is here in the UK to grow and be recognised as it is in Europe. By having the store here, and in such a prime location, it sends a clear message that we’re a big player here and we’re serious about this market. We are the number one bag brand in Europe and have much work to do in the UK to grab market share.
We’ve got a great store manager Guido Gazzi who is keen to work with the public and draw them in. He’ll continuously make the store interesting, with new window visuals, the Stolen Space art gallery and lots of in-store activity to attract new customers to our brand.
SGB: What’s the marketing plan overall for the brand?
RMW: The marketing plan is to position Eastpak as a lifestyle brand, and push and promote it more in individual areas. Apparel is the key driver for growth in lifestyle, and then we also have travel, which is one of our fastest growing sectors.
We’re recognised throughout Europe as the number one backpack brand and we’re going to do this in UK through strong PR and strong marketing campaigns.
The other key strategy is our shop-in-shop concept. We’ve just opened this in Selfridges on Oxford St, the Trafford Centre in Manchester opens later this year and we plan to open another five in 2009.
SGB: How are Eastpak going to support independent retailers?
RMW: By supplying POS, window displays, in-store incentives, competitions, and also by having a direct sales force calling on all our accounts on a monthly to bi-monthly basis. Obviously the other key factor is a wide range of products that will enable independents to have key points of difference from the multiples. ALL our products have 30-year warranty – this represents a very high level of quality and gives all our customers a peace of mind that their bags won’t fall apart and will last.
SGB: What’s the plan for Eastpak’s e-tailing operation, and how will it work WITH retailers – or will it work ‘against’ them?
RMW: We’re currently working with some key companies like Next Directory and Littlewoods to do e-tail and by working closely with these type  companies this will make our brand more accessible to general households like it is found  in Europe.
We want to work with the right key e-tail partners that represent our brand in the right concept, using the right banners, logos and product shots to keep the message clear.
SGB: Crucially, do Eastpak make pink bags?
RMW: Yes. Its called the eternal flame pink. For SS09 we have now made eternal flame pink available  as a  core colourway in the authentic product line and it’s also available on selected luggage styles!