Orlebar Brown - Growing the brand globally


Based in London, our client Orlebar Brown launched in March 2007 offering a more tailored approach to men's beach and swim shorts. Not so much a swim short but a 'short you can swim in' something you can wear on the beach and by the pool that is smart enough to transition to a bar or restaurant.

As their preferred design partner, we have been fortunate to witness the growth of the brand, helping to formulate and shape their retail identity whether in an owned and operated store, a premium wholesale account or through a franchise partner.

The brand ethos ‘Intrinsically British but ultimately international’ has been realised in the store openings that have taken place thus far, whether it has been a shop in shop in a premium account such as Harrods, Selfridges or Galeries Lafayette or own stores in eternally cool coastal resorts such as St Tropez, the Hamptons or St Barts. 

When OB decided to expand their retail footprint beyond Europe and the US after establishing stores in the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Turkey, NYC and Miami, private equity firm Piper provided the financial injection to ensure an initial store base was established.

However, the quest for markets further afield including Australia, Mexico, Singapore and China has seen them introduce an alternative strategy in the form of Franchise partners that has allowed the brand to enter several new markets quickly and cost effectively.

Often a sensible and successful business option it is just one route to market but is not without risk.

Sourcing a good franchise partner that operates successfully in the market and can understand the brand proposition is key. Ensuring they buy the correct product in the right numbers and employ the correct sales staff that best represent the brand are essential. Failure to meet this criteria can result in a brand entering and exiting a market rather quickly which can of course be damaging. 

OB ensures that any franchise partner fully understands their brand concept, retail strategy and provides clear contracts to ensure that genuine partnerships are formed.  Every location is signed off by them. It’s not about volume, it’s about the quality of the location and ensuring that standards and consistency are maintained globally.

Ultimate success is measured when a brand can start to buy back the successful franchises and operate them directly. Only time will tell whether this model proves to be successful but currently things are busy and we are looking forward to a strong 2018.