Big Interview: Philippe De Oliveira, Head of Logistics & Ecommerce, The Kooples

The Kooples' head of logistics & ecommerce Philippe De Oliveira tells Retail Gazette about his involvement in the French retailer's transportation, stock control, and warehousing - a place where "time management is most important"

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The Kooples Philippe De Oliveira

Like many fashion retailers, The Kooples offers free delivery and returns for customers and the person in charge of organising the storage and distributing the goods is Philippe De Oliveira – the head of logistics and ecommerce at the French brand.

De Oliveira’s day starts at the crack of dawn – 5am. He’s in charge of operations at the warehouse, and aims to “deliver ecommerce orders as fast as possible”. In fact he spends the majority of his time in the warehouse, where time management and team building are crucial aspects to his role.

“That’s 80 per cent of my time. In logistics, time management is most important,” he tells Retail Gazette.

Nonetheless, De Oliveira didn’t actually start off his career in the logistics field. Before joining The Kooples in June 2017, he spent time working at one of Europe’s largest electrical retailers, The Darty Group, where he was head of production and ecommerce since 2008.

“We want to be a part of a bigger marketplace”

De Oliveira says he joined The Kooples because of his “passion for customer service, and the dynamism of the industry”. His main achievements so far include improving the security of the warehouse, and enhancing the quality and preparation in deliveries.

Even though he’s led a successful career, De Oliveira has lofty ambitions to improve The Kooples as a brand by offering customers same-day delivery – a new customer experience initiative the retailer is currently working on.

“We want to improve our distribution processes to get there,” he says.

“We want to be a part of a bigger marketplace. We want to move to Zalando.”

When asked about why Asos wasn’t considered as a platform to join, De Oliveira says “it’s all up to the marketing team, but for now Zalando is on our list”.

As head of ecommerce, he works on The Kooples’ collaborations with cross-functional partners, whereby he manages website design, content strategy, development, and customer service – in addition to handling logistics.

Despite an increasing number of retailers scrapping their catalogue businesses and shifting it towards an online platform, De Oliveira doesn’t believe this is crucial.

“But if they want to improve their revenues, ecommerce is necessary,” he says.

“Since we are in the ecommerce era, I think most of the retailers have already shifted towards online and they won’t leave. If you’ve started it, you won’t leave it.”

“The UK is our third biggest market, it’s a really good market for us”

Meanwhile, De Oliveira boasted about being a part of a crucial shift in The Kooples’ history.

On June 4, the French retailer was acquired by the Swiss-based parent company of Lacoste and Gant, Maus Frères – a company which De Oliveira says “is bringing ideas on board but also keeping The Kooples’ DNA”.

Maus Frères plans to add The Kooples’ menswear and womenswear label to its international brands division.

“They will help us to develop The Kooples internationally, in Asia, and definitely in the US, thanks to their knowledge,” De Oliveira explains.

Despite high street sales in the UK hitting a steep decline last year, The Kooples has managed to stay afloat amid the chaos – defying the high street gloom.

In fact, the retailer generated €227 million (£200 million) in sales last year and currently operates 334 stores across 32 markets, including France, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, the US, Spain, Ireland, Denmark, Canada, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy and the UK.

However, as a European fashion house, the uncertainty around Brexit is daunting for The Kooples, and De Oliveira says the company is now preparing in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

“We have approached different carriers who could deal with Brexit for us because it could mean a lot of customs documentations, and it could mean a lot more work for us.”

He adds: “The UK is our third biggest market, it’s a really good market for us, as it is a market where we can improve our sales and improve our brand image, we have to get to this administration process part.

“It means the lead time will increase in terms of delivery because of that. The service won’t be that good compared to what we have now.”

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