As a producer and a retailer, Suitsupply – a vertically integrated chain of shops selling men’s suits – has developed a supply chain that minimizes costs. The business has a simple formula: making fashionable suits the classic way at a good price. Suitsupply is currently expanding internationally. Their network of physical stores and online shops is growing fast. “It is our and Modexpress’ challenge to make sure these developments are managed well,” says Hans Hulsinga, Head of Logistics at Suitsupply.
A growing business
Suitsupply’s first stores are located alongside the Dutch national highways. Men can buy a suit there on their way to and from work and have it tailored on the spot. Over the years, Suitsupply has also entered the city centres, intentionally choosing locations that stand out, such as the Willemsparkweg in Amsterdam and the Frankrijklei in Antwerp.
“Over the last few years we have experienced strong international growth,” says Hans Hulsinga. “We have opened large flagship stores in cities such as Shanghai and Miami. Especially in America and Asia we will be opening more stores.”
More frequent deliveries
Modexpress supplies the European stores of Suitsupply from its warehouse in Helmond. Until recently, stores in major cities such as Milan and Madrid were supplied only once a week. That frequency will now be scaled up to multiple deliveries a week. According to Hulsinga this is not always working yet. “Sometimes we have to rent a dedicated van, which is expensive. Together with Modexpress we are looking at a way to make this work without having to pay a premium price – work in progress!”
Suitsupply is hoping that Modexpress’ wide-ranging transport network will grow in step with the international expansion of the business. “If at a certain moment we open a big store in Paris, it might well be that this store needs new supplies five days a week. The idea is to further develop this together with Modexpress.”
Right now, Suitsupply has operations in 15 countries. Further expansion is driven by its strong online business. “Australia is one of our largest countries. In addition, the Nordic countries in Europe are in the top three, although we don’t have stores there yet.” Sales of Suitsupply’s online shops represent a considerable percentage of total turnover. Hulsinga expects further growth in this segment. Omni-channel therefore has become the most important division within Suitsupply. This is clearly visible at the head office, where half of the employees are designers and the other half technical specialists.
“In places where we open physical stores, we also see an increase in our online sales. Selling tailor-made suits via the internet is a challenge. Right now, there are still a lot of returns. Since the fitting room of an online shop is in the consumer’s home, returns are part and parcel of the business model. Returning items should be easy and without additional costs for the consumer. Furthermore, the return rate needs to be optimised. It is our and Modexpress’ challenge to tackle this. To this end, we are exploring various approaches.”
In the coming years Suitsupply intends to grow further, together with Modexpress, to reach the Champions League in terms of logistics. “Delivering suits on hangers is a specialism that Modexpress masters well. In a number of areas we see room for improvement. In that context we find it important that Modexpress, as a fashion specialist, will take us by the hand. The world around us is changing fast. Respond to those changes with success and you control the future.”