Case Study — Marie-Chantal

Marie-Chantal is an established but small, respected, boutique luxury childrenswear brand that enjoys a strong legacy profile with operations across retail, eCommerce and wholesale channels. PROJECTile delivered a unique, discrete project for the brand.


Background

Marie-Chantal was on track to be sold in 2017, though by early 2018, it became clear that the deal was not going to be concluded. As a result, the business needed to recalibrate and redraw its roadmap, resources having suffered from a lapse of focus on strategy and direction over the course of the planned sale project.


Previous management was financially focussed in order to ready the business for courting investors in wake of the expected deal... that subsequently failed to take place. Brand, collection segmentation, margins and sales strategy, planning, communications, and tone of voice all required immediate attention.


PROJECTile was tasked with reinvigorating the brand, team and business with a remit to improve sales and revenue, and to develop a financially sound commercial and operational strategy to take the brand forward and attract a small group of private investors, whilst also developing and attracting new routes to market including collaborations, licensing opportunities and brand extensions.


Viewed as a 9-month project (with a view to extension if needed), what the brand wanted was a combination of consultancy working directly with the CEO/Founder as well as taking on key COO and other C-suite management responsibilities during this period of transition.


The starting point at the outset of 2018 saw PROJECTile focus on a number of key problem areas it identified in collaboration with the client. These were issues not limited to any one area, but simultaneously impacting on all areas of the business. Among others, they included:

  • A lack of focussed merchandising and buying strategy leading to a weak margin and profitability

  • Outdated branding and collateral; a piecemeal approach to tone of voice

  • A lack of clear procedures, protocols and defined roles

  • Disorganised wholesale business without focus on quality resulting in missed opportunities.

The Project: Moving Forward

Using a combination of consultancy and hands-on management, PROJECTile’s signed-off plan resulted in notable improvements in 2019 across key business areas. These included:


Strategy, Retail and Operations

  • Designed and delivered on the 30-60-90 day plan as set out in January 2019 and Commercial Roadmap delivered at 6 months

  • Conducting a business/brand review and delivered Brand and Commercial Strategy with demonstrable results: Retail – 270% increase in AOV; margin up 19%, etc.

  • Delivered on maintaining and/or reducing budgets across the business wherever possible

  • Cleared 2.3k units of terminal stock (with commercially beneficial, strategic partner)

Commercial – external channels

  • Driving a more consistent and profitable business with Harrods – sell through up 21% YTD, YOY

  • Adding fashion, reinvigorating the relationship with an eye on visual merchandising saw Harrods order position move to a 60% increase in business YOY (+ elevated brand position; increased footprint)

Wholesale

  • Securing 8 new accounts including Bergdorf Goodman and re-engaged previous business to vastly increased revenue

  • YTD Wholesale sales 13% up compared with previous year YTD. Gross Margin up 11% on previous year

Collaborations

  • Executing and delivering on-brand partnership initiatives, steered to commercial advantage. Generating direct and indirect revenue into 2020 and new PR opportunities

  • New, exciting content generation, appealing to a ‘fashionista’ set


Overall Achievements

In the 9-month lifespan of the project (Yep, everything was achieved on time!), PROJECTile delivered the following key outcomes:


Margin, Profitability, Growth

  • Combined total margin (increase of 16% vs previous year)

  • Retail – 26% increase in margin

  • Boutique—despite downsizing and relocation, generated nearly equal profit to 2018 (vs 2 stores for 1⁄4 of 2018) – increased profitability per square foot

  • Web—26% increase in margin – and notable improvement on UK website.

  • Wholesale—30.4% revenue increase on 2018, even before Q4/Holiday period – adding pedigree accounts to the wholesale matrix

Laying foundations to support future growth - developing a culture of collaboration and cooperation.

  • Focus on transparency, process, budget, accountability, and ownership — significant strides in giving ownership back to trusted key employees and setting foundations to instil a culture of due process, record keeping, and fiduciary responsibility

Culture is by far the hardest and most time-consuming element to change, but arguably the most worthwhile and important. PROJECTile cultivated tangible, positive change. This included ushering in fresh energy, a spirit of cooperation, and an openness that fosters creative thinking, asking questions, and idea generation. PROJECTile’s approach created a place where each member of the brand staff feels like a stakeholder. The overall level of professionalism was markedly improved.

The Future

Part of the remit for the 9-month project was to move the brand into a healthy position for the future, something tangibly achieved across a range of areas. These included:


Collaborations

Brand extensions and Projects — projects on schedule for Q1 2020 with five-fold benefits to the brand:

  • New revenue pipeline, with nominal investment

  • Growing audience and customer base

  • Introducing new wholesale relationships and opportunities

  • Unlocking further potential collaborations and brand extensions

  • Elevating the brand to the exacting customer who is core

Wholesale – projected to double, if not triple in this channel by end of 2020

  • Projected to generate substantial revenue by end of 2020 (excluding the positive impact on direct channels)

  • Increased brand awareness and elevated profile


Retail – continue to market the boutique and nurture new clients developed in 2019 whilst continuing to build the local clientele:

  • Build stronger, more professional and sales-oriented team and develop more formal loyalty programmes

  • 15-20% projected revenue growth YOY (this is very conservative)