The search for Mexx's new CEO is almost at an end. Twenty potential new leaders were invited to interview with the fashion label. "Expectations are high, but we're really
close now," says Executive Chairman Lewis Lee Bird III. The brand celebrated
the launch of its new Metropolitan collection on Amsterdam's Rokin. "We've been far too quiet for a long time."
theme of the evening is a housewarming. The specially rented space on the Rokin has been arranged to look like a loft belonging to the fictive couple Marc and Alexandra. Candles flicker on the balcony, and a canopy bed and clothes rack with the Mexx collection occupy the bedroom. In the living room a band accompanies saxophonist Candy Dulfer. The guests: models, dressed in Mexx, of course.
Prior to the event, Uli Trautmann, Mexx's Head of Product Design, admitted to being somewhat nervous. Part of the collection had already debuted at trade fair Pure in London in August. And in July, a soft launch of the line took place. "But it's still nerve-wracking," says Trautmann."The line is still casual, but the feeling is more chic, more citified. It's more fashionable and dressed up, but still devote a lot of attention to the quality," he explains. Particularly the Russian market shows a great demand for this type of collection. "And we listen to our clients and wholesale partners. We did so before, of course, but the market has changed."
The brand is taking leave of Dutch actress Carice van Houten, who has acted as the face of Mexx since November 2010. "It was a temporary collaboration," says Trautmann. Bird adds that the brand is happy with the collaboration, but that Van Houten is not international enough for Mexx's current direction. For the meantime, the company does not see the benefits of replacing her with a new face. "We don't just want one single celebrity, but different models, so that all our customers can recognize themselves in our campaign photographs," says Bird. There is one new collaboration: Candy Dulfer will tour Europe to perform in restyled Mexx stores.
Mexx plans to look far beyond Holland's borders. Although the Benelux, together with Germany and France, are the (originally Dutch) company's most important markets, Canada has also become key. According to Mexx executives, Russia is also gaining ground. And next year, Mexx plans to conquer China together with a local partner. The goal: four hundred stores within seven years. "We know it's a lot, but there a great deal of people in China," says Bird. "And it turned out that Mexx already enjoyed a considerable presence there."
The strategy - for which 80 million euros has been reserved - was put together by former CEO Thomas Grote. He thought up the reforms in order to rescue the struggling fashion company from bankruptcy. A stronger focus on wholesale and a clear position in the mid segment were meant to save Mexx. "We're sticking to his plan, we're just accelerating the pace. Loss-making stores will be closed much sooner, we've innovated products and attracted new personnel at a faster rate." Fresh blood was particularly welcome in the company's marketing division. "We've been far too quiet for a long time," says Trautmann.
As Bird has indicated in previous interviews, the Gores Group's ultimate goal is to sell Mexx or take it public. "That is, of course, always the goal of a private equity firm, but we haven't decided on a deadline. We want to make Mexx great again. With a new CEO, a real leader, who believes in Mexx. I'll call you when we find the right person."