Gieves & Hawkes, Savile Row, London
With a heritage stretching back to 1771, a flagship atelier at 1 Savile Row, a blizzard of royal warrants and celebrity clients, an unrivalled global military uniform business – and the job of dressing Prince William on his wedding day – Gieves & Hawkes is one of the most distinguished names in British men’s tailoring. The company’s pedigree is gilded by the 14 outlets it has in select UK and Irish cities, its three-city US tours – think pop-up shops dripping with the pomp of The King’s Speech – and its 75 outlets in China, the honeypot that almost every fashionable brand is desperate to enter.
Appearances, though, can be deceptive. Through poor financial management and an overall lack of focus, Gieves & Hawkes has made sizeable losses in the past couple of years. John Durnin, who was parachuted in as chief executive 12 months ago by its owner, Hong Kong property magnate Christopher Cheng, is blunt about what went wrong. “We were overmanned, over-inventoried and had weak margins,” he says. So the urbane, chummy Englishman, who had overseen Richemont’s Alfred Dunhill retail operations in Asia for 20 years, set in motion a complete overhaul.
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