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INTERVIEW Chris Gove of Percival on the strategy behind the multichannel menswear brand

Screenshot of percivalclo.com

Screenshot of percivalclo.com

In today’s interview we hear from Percival chief executive Chris Gove on how the up-and-coming menswear brand with a celebrity following has developed its business across channels.

InternetRetailing: Tell us about Percival

Chris Gove, chief executive, Percival

Chris Gove, chief executive, Percival: Based in East London’s Hackney, Percival combines a quintessentially British sense of understated style and rare, internationally-sourced fabrics and materials. We produce classic wardrobe staples, but will bring something different to your clothes hangers, hence the term ‘Subverting the Classics’ that you see on our site. We try to bring a humorous approach to fashion – never taking ourselves too seriously, and also helping our customer get both confidence and fun from our take on menswear.

We are a team of 25 who design, produce and shoot everything from our London studio. We don’t believe in rigid, out-dated fashion business models of strict seasons and industry ‘drop’ dates. We try to think about what it is our customer wants from menswear, how we can be their friend, and how we can bring our collaborations to life through that same lens. We make small collections often, to keep the offering fresh and varied, and to reduce wastage.

IR: Who does Percival sell to? 

Captain America actor Chris Evans wearing Percival

CG: Our customers are primarily aged between 25 and 35, and they enjoy comedy, music, films. We sell to a lot of people wanting to introduce Percival to their friends and family too. Not to brag, but we also have dressed The Rock, Captain America, and Kit Harrington!

IR: How does it sell? 

CG: Our flagship store is located in trendy Soho, London. We have also popped up recently in Coal Drops Yard near Kings Cross station and have big plans to go more global this year too! Naturally, we sell online too, at www.percivalclo.com

IR: Where does it sell? 

CG: Everywhere! Since we partnered with Global-e we sell online to over 200 destinations worldwide! More than that, we now offer our international customers a seamless online shopping experience, that is localised to their market. This includes presenting prices and accepting payments in over 100 currencies, pricing inclusive of taxes and duties or having a prepayment option at checkout according to local best practices.

We’ve also got a wide variety of local and alternative payment options and multiple shipping options at attractive rates, including free shipping over a specified threshold. Localising the shopping experience has allowed us to grow our international traffic conversion in our key international markets significantly as well as expand into new markets and generate new revenue streams which has been a fantastic opportunity for the brand. 

IR: Has Brexit been an issue for the company? If so, in what way and how has you dealt with it?

CG: Like most retailers, we definitely felt the negative impacts of Brexit. We faced difficulty around supporting prepayment of tax and duties, as well as navigating the legal complexity around registering for local VAT payment. We have been able to combat this with Global-e’s help, which meant that we could offer our European customers a seamless experience without having to deal as a brand with the import complexities. We’ve seen significant growth across many European markets, including Germany, France and the Netherlands. We are now able to swiftly react to changes in regulations as well as market trends and adjust our offering to stay competitive and preserve our margins.  

IR: Did lockdown boost sales – and if so, how is it going now? 

CG: Lockdown did boost sales, we’re the same as every brand. Since lockdown we put a huge emphasis on diversifying our marketing channels – we pivoted quite heavily to being everywhere our customer is. So far, it’s paying off.

IR: What’s the strategy for the future? What opportunities do you see – and how are you planning to benefit from them? 

CG: We’re constantly thinking about our customers. Since expanding online internationally, our customers are now based in large numbers in the US and Australia so many opportunities lie there – as well as in the UK. We’ve got big plans for physical retail, as well as working with collaborators in other markets. It should be a busy year!

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