5 Minutes With Phil Cody, Founder, Cody & Co

Cody & Co is a new footwear brand that launched with an online store in October last year. With all products made in the UK, Retail Gazette caught up with founder Phil Cody to find out what inspired him to start the online retail business, and what he has in store for 2020.

Cody & Co founder Phil Cody profile Q&A 5 Minutes With
"We are aiming to offer 'Made in the UK' fashion" - Cody & Co founder Phil Cody

Tell me a bit about the Cody & Co’s story.

Cody & Co was founded and launched in 2018. After working in the footwear industry for 26 years, the prospect of developing my own brand was a long held ambition. Having made contact and established a working agreement with the factory in Sheffield, we spent the next 18 months researching and building the range and designing the website. The brand finally went live in October 2019.

Who’s the “co” in Cody & Co?

This is with respect to anyone who collaborates with us on the brand at any level form design to marketing. Any brand is a collaboration of minds so it is an acknowledgement of that.

What gap in the UK retail market does Cody & Co strive to address?

We are aiming to offer “Made in the UK” fashion. To offer a range of products which has more continental flair than the traditional – and excellent – UK made brands. This is how we will develop the range, along a more directional angle but with British quality.

Cody & Co founder Phil Cody profile Q&A 5 Minutes With
Phil Cody is the founder of online retailer Cody & Co, which launched October 2019

How is Cody & Co’s business model different to competitors?

We are a pureplay retailer so we don’t have a wholesale model or any bricks-and-mortar. In doing this we can load the product with premium materials and offer it to the customer at a premium, but accessible price point. By only adding our costs and margin – with no third party – we can keep prices leaner and make the online model work harder for our customers.

What’s in store for Cody & Co for 2020?

We plan to consolidate on our launch and get out there and spread the word – while evolving the range to offer our customers newness throughout the year.

How is Cody & Co addressing some of the challenges facing the retail industry?

We are Made in England, which contributes to the sustainability of the fashion industry and we aim to be transparent with our customers so they understand the cost structure, manufacturing process and people behind the brand.

Our feeling is that a large part of the issue with the retail sector is too much of the same product across different retailers – and that there is a real desire for quality and individuality coming from consumers.

“Online and bricks-and-mortar retail can live together quite happily”

What would you say is the biggest risk for the retail sector, given the current climate?

Consumer caution. Although no one is technically any worse off as yet, the media storm around Brexit creates a feeling that we are in a recession. The huge shift to online buying has hurt many retailers with a legacy store portfolio, but my feeling that the online vs bricks-and-mortar battle will find a natural balance, with many brands already talking up the need for a mix of both channels.

Describe your role and responsibilities at Cody & Co.

We are a small business, so I reach across most functions from product development to marketing and social strategy – we work with some very talented companies to support our launch which has been a massive learning curve.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.

I have worked across various footwear companies from Clarks, Rockport and on the supply side working with high street retailers and sourcing in the Far East. The dream was always to work with British factories and that we are able to now do that is very exciting.

What got you into retail in the first place?

My friend’s father owned some Clarks franchise stores in the South East where I grew up – and I found myself on the management training scheme with Clarks and running stores for five years. I loved the immediacy of it in dealing with customers but my main love was product and Clarks at that time were very-product and selling skills focused – I learned a huge amount through their excellent product training.

How has your previous experience aided your current job?

In some respects it can be a draw back as you tend to overthink things, but a broad knowledge of the footwear sector, product constructions and the commercial do and don’ts of product development have given me a good grounding in what customers want.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

Lack of time.

And the most rewarding?

Seeing product development come to life and then someone buying it.

What advice would you give someone who is considering embarking on a career in retail?

Think about where you want it to take you from the outset and if you work for the right companies and make your intentions clear to them then you can probably get there quicker than in most industries.

Any last words?

I think that online and bricks-and-mortar retail can live together quite happily – we will certainly explore the pop-up concept over the next year and the more variety we have in our high streets the more people are to get out there and look. I am looking forward to seeing a completely different face of British shopping in the next decade – it is a really exciting thing to a part of.

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