Mulberry, the renowned British luxury handbag brand, is undergoing significant changes to adapt to current challenges. In addition to recently reducing its global workforce due to the impacts of Brexit and the economic climate, Mulberry is now taking further steps by shutting down its communications teams in Paris and Hong Kong. Moreover, the brand plans to discontinue its footwear and ready-to-wear collections, which are currently produced under license by Onward Luxury Group, starting from Spring/Summer 2021.

The decision to discontinue these lines is part of Mulberry’s strategy to refocus on its core activity and its London team. Leather goods contribute about 90% of the brand’s turnover, with bags and small leather goods accounting for 70% of its total sales. By shifting its focus back to its core product category, Mulberry aims to streamline its operations and strengthen its position in the luxury handbag market. Alongside its leather goods, the company plans to continue investing in other lifestyle categories, including soft accessories, eyewear, and jewelry.

The discontinuation of the ready-to-wear line follows the departure of creative director Johnny Coca, announced in March. Coca joined Mulberry in 2015 with the goal of repositioning the brand in the high-quality accessible luxury segment and expanding its international presence. The brand’s ready-to-wear line has faced challenges even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the current economic crisis has further exacerbated the situation.

Besides changes in its collections, Mulberry is reportedly considering the closure of one of its production sites in Somerset, England. This potential closure of “The Rookery,” located near Bath in Chilcompton, where the brand was founded in 1971, may result in 50 out of 180 employees being retained and relocated to the company’s other factory, “The Willow,” in Bridgwater.

CEO Thierry Andretta’s previous strategy aimed to transform Mulberry into a lifestyle company by expanding its offerings. However, the unexpected challenges posed by COVID-19 and the resulting economic crisis have necessitated a shift in plans. For the six-month period ending in November 2019, Mulberry experienced flat revenues compared to the previous year, a slight decline in gross profit, and a pre-tax loss.

In February, British investor Mike Ashley acquired a 12.5% stake in Mulberry through Frasers Group, which operates House of Fraser department stores. This acquisition highlights the changes and challenges that Mulberry is currently facing.

As Mulberry discontinues its ready-to-wear line and makes strategic changes, the brand is recalibrating its business to navigate the ever-changing fashion landscape. The decision to refocus on its core category of leather goods reflects a stronger emphasis on its most successful and iconic products. Despite uncertainties, Mulberry remains committed to innovation and adaptation as it charts its path forward in the luxury fashion market.

Useful links:
Mulberry Official Website
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