British-born fashion designer Lulu Guinness OBE is still at the forefront of innovations to improve the way the fashion industry is currently managed. Last year, her label Lulu Guinness (launched in 1989 and specialising in handbags and accessories) adopted an integrated retail solution across its UK operations to improve integration across the business.
Lulu Guinness’s international retail empire operates a complex model across various different businesses, including a direct retail business primarily based in the UK (with flagship stores in London’s Burlington Arcade and Royal Exhange) as well as a New York store, as well as a successful wholesale business which is expanding into the Far East. With such a variety of operations, creating a comprehensive integration system was crucial to maintaining a cohesive business going forward. This in turn frees up management to focus more time and energy on helping to drive international growth.
Paul Spinks, Lulu Guinness’ Managing Director, has said: “It is sometimes not fully appreciated how big an issue integration can be for any retail brand… There are lots of good systems out there for running different aspects of the business, but they all need to link and talk to each other.” Spinks went on, “Warehouse integration is extremely important for us - essential for driving and supporting our growing wholesale opportunities globally… Futura is effectively the master system which everything else feeds off”.
The implementation of Futura’s integration system has also reduced the dependency on time consuming and sometimes inaccurate manual processes, which means that the business is no longer at risk if key individuals leave or move on. The system provides automated customer data capture both online and in-store and an accounting system has also been created.
So far the project has been “extremely positive”, according to Spinks, providing clear and reliable communication between the different facets of the business. With the system in place, Spinks and his team can focus on wider issues of growing the Lulu Guinness brand.
This is not the only area where Lulu Guinness is looking to stay ahead of the pack, however. Guinness, mother of two, divorced her husband last year but this has not stopped her keeping up with current trends. The label announced yesterday that it would shortly be releasing a ‘wearable technology’ line, hot on the heels of Apple’s announcement of their wearable Apple Watch. Guinness was encouraged by earlier collaborations, including Apple’s takeover of Beat headphones, which became a fashion statement as well as serving a technological purpose.
Guinness explained: ”We’re continuing to do both: pieces that are made in England, hand-embroidered, using jewels and precious metals; as well as pieces that are high-tech, exciting and push the boundaries. My favourite bag is always the next one we do.