John Richmond Sees Potential in China, Digital and Fragrances

MILAN — According to Mena Marano, chief executive officer of Arav Group, which operates the John Richmond, Marcobologna and Silvian Heach brands, in these unsettling times if it’s hard to feel positive, at the same time it’s key to be proactive.

To face the challenges of the markets, Marano said it’s extremely important to be strategic and to continue to invest.

The attention of the group, which closed 2020 with sales down 30 percent compared to 2019, is currently focused on the development of the John Richmond brand, which compared to the other labels in Arav’s portfolio “succeeded at containing losses in 2020,” Marano said. In 2017, Arav acquired a controlling stake in the fashion house founded by the British designer, who still holds the role of creative director.

In particular, the brand signed an agreement with fashion group White to boost its business in the Far East with a major focus on China. White has recently inaugurated a 5,382-square-foot John Richmond showroom in Shanghai and it expects to open a range of boutiques in the next couple of years. “The first store is scheduled to open in Shanghai by the end of 2021,” said Marano, who also said the brand is working on organizing a runway show to be staged in Shanghai in September.

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Mena Marano, CEO of Arav Group Courtesy of John Richmond

Boosting the brand’s digital business is another key priority for Marano. The label, which saw its sales on Farfetch spike 70 percent in 2020, is debuting at the end of the month a new e-commerce platform, which, along with carrying the brand’s regular collections, will give visibility to a range of additional lifestyle categories, including jewelry and beauty products, as well as to collaborations that will be delivered as drops during the year.

Marano said that a year ago the company signed an agreement with Parma-based perfume company Italart for the launch of a new John Richmond fragrance line to be unveiled at the next edition of Cannes’ TFWA travel-retail trade show, scheduled for Sept. 26 to 30.

Marano explained that the line will include a signature scent as well as a special collection of six fragrances with exclusive packaging that will have very limited distribution.

Since the executive thinks that the effects of the global pandemic will continue to impact the performance of the fashion sector at least until the first half of 2022, Merano said that John Richmond is embracing strategies to actively support international retailers.

For example, the company teamed with digital platform Thron to give retailers without a structure to create their own content to have access to a wide range of images and materials that will allow them to reach their consumers on social media. At the same time, the company loosened and revised its buying policies to meet the needs of stores.

Digitalization and internationalization sit at the core of Marano’s business plan for John Richmond, as does China, and the entrepreneur believes that the brand also has great potential in India and Africa.

Marano is also working on the release of the company’s first social impact report in 2021.

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