Baird: Breaking Out New Menswear Brands

While the company name Baird may not in itself be familiar to fashionistas, many of its products already have household name status. As a designer, manufacturer and wholesaler, the Leeds-based company’s portfolio of brands includes Ben Sherman, Racing Green, Jasper Conran, Addison & Steele, and Pierre Cardin, which are distributed through concessions in major stores or via independent retailers.
Multi-stranded business
Beneath the menswear umbrella, Baird is a diverse business, not just in terms of the range of clothing produced, but also in the mix of ownership and licensing deals that sit behind the brands. Baird designs and sells its own lines while also designing and manufacturing on behalf of third parties. However, when Wholesale Sales Director Andrew Thomson and Head of Buying Sarah Howells arrived for the two-day Saatchi Masius Masterclass, they chose to focus on just two brands – 1 Like No Other, and Gibson London.
Industry insight
Attended by a diverse group of businesses, the aim of the Masterclass was to help delegates focus on strategies to improve their branding and marketing. “It was a fantastic opportunity,” says Andrew. “Saatchi is itself a great brand and it was very exciting to be invited along to talk to some of the great marketing minds that work for the company.”  
In particular, Andrew was seeking insights and pointers to improve awareness – and ultimately sales – of the two menswear lines. Both brands are relatively new to the market, and as such don’t enjoy the same degree of awareness as some of the more established brands in the Baird portfolio.
Raising brand awareness
Aimed at style-conscious young men, they are competing with brands such as Paul Smith and Ted Baker. “The sales have reached something of a plateau, so we are looking for ways to take them forward,” says Andrew. 
During the course of the two-day event, the Baird team took part in a range of discussions and exercises, including a session on ‘love marks’ – elements of the product that generate customer loyalty – and a ‘Blue Ocean’ workshop, which helps businesses identify ways to move into new markets. 

“Saatchi is itself a great brand and it was very exciting to be invited along to talk to some of the great marketing minds that work for the company.” Andrew Thomson, Wholesale Sales Director, Baird

Overcoming challenges

Looking back on a packed two days, Andrew believes the event helped to crystalise some of the challenges faced by Baird in relation to 1 Like No Other, and Gibson London. “Our customers are the retailers but success depends on establishing the brand in the minds of our target consumers,” he says.  
Drawing on the input and advice from the Saatchi Masius team, the next step for Baird is to encourage retailers to stock both lines in greater depth. “At the same time we have to step up our own efforts in terms of visual marketing,” he adds. This will include the use of a mock-up store to enhance the wholesale branding.
Overall, the Masterclass has provided pointers to taking Baird’s wholesale business forward. “And it was great opportunity to think out of the box,” Andrew says. 
Indeed, ‘thinking out of the box’ is exactly what Masterclass events are all about. They provide the opportunity for SMEs to gain insight from industry leaders and to network with their contemporaries. If they leave inspired and full of ideas that can be translated to their own business operations then the event has been a success.  

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