In previous years, if one wanted to buy a pre-owned luxury item, they’d have to scour sites like eBay or Gumtree, unsure of the authenticity and often only being able to view pixellated images.
Enter Xupes: the high-end luxury retailer where everything they stock and source is pre-owned. Launched as an online retailer in 2009, it has just made its mark in bricks-and-mortar retail with a new store in central London.
Founder and chief executive Joseph McKenzie started the businesses with his father Frank after seeing a gap in the market.
“Nobody was offering quality, offering a service, people weren’t displaying product properly,” McKenzie told Retail Gazette.
Xupes was formed to redefine “the whole pre-owned market for luxury watches and handbags”.
Based in Hertfordshire, McKenzie realised consumers wanted to see and touch items for themselves. This prompted Xupes to open not one but two stores – in Amsterdam and now London, which opened last month.
Since Xupes opened its store in the UK capital, both McKenzie and head of operations Andy Dunn expressed how much they wanted to refrain from the superior-esque attitude for which other luxury retailers are infamous.
While Xupes’ showrooms may be mistaken for a Louis Vuitton and Chanel store, both McKenzie and Dunn hope the service and experience Xupes offers will set them apart.
“When someone’s coming into the store, the first thing that you want them to experience is comfort, because in the retail environment a lot of places don’t feel relaxed,” Dunn explained.
McKenzie added that if a customer came into the store and was new to the brand, Xupes would look to educate them, including the people behind the business and the products on offer.
“And then we’d want to get to know them a bit. And we’ll talk to customers about their interests- lots of us share interests,” he said.
“Once you’ve got to know someone and they feel comfortable, selling comes second”
“It’s not something you go straight in with, and that’s always been our approach and to build lasting relationships rather than ones which are just short term.”
There’s no secrecy behind this business, so much so that it allows customers to enter the Hertfordshire head office every now and then to view a display of products.
McKenzie said Xupes was a brand he wanted people to be part of, where team members can share their expertise and offer advise.
“Sometimes customers might not come in to buy, they just come in for a chat and a coffee, to learn about pre-owned and learn about the investment value of something,” he said.
Dunn discussed the basics that so many other retailers miss: “being polite, friendly and pleasant”. He pointed to the issue of how some shoppers can enter stores only to be met by indifferent sales executives and assistants, thus making them feel uncomfortable for just browsing.
Dunn also highlighted the way Xupes doesn’t sell its own brand of products, which means its top priorities other than the quality of stock they receive the customer service they can offer.
“It’s the personal ability of everyone who works in the business, and that is our brand,” he said.
“When people are comfortable with that, they can enjoy the experience so much more, because it’s not all about the selling.
“We take pride out of the equation, if you factor pride into the equation, I think you are on a downward spiral very quickly, and you can’t move with times.”