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New Clarks boss looks online to drive revitalisation

The new chief of the 195-year-old Clarks footwear brand is looking to e-commerce as a core foundation of the brand’s reinvigoration. 

Charlene Perera, the woman behind the resurrection of the Hush Puppies business, will now act as Clarks’ general manager after recent organisational changes at Brand Collective, which has owned the Clarks licence for nearly 20 years, presented her with the opportunity to step up. 

With a plan to bring the UK-based footwear business more in line with Brand Collective’s digital-first strategy, as well as optimising the brand’s four bricks-and-mortar mono-branded stores in Australia, Perera told Inside Retail the lessons learned on Hush Puppies would translate well to Clarks. 

“Digital first is key. Our online store is a significant part of our business – it’s our flagship store. Brand Collective does a great job in the e-commerce space, which has been an incredible assistance through this Covid-19 period,” Perera said. 

“Our online stores have gone from strength to strength, and marketplaces are becoming a really significant part of our business. The growth we’ve seen with platforms like The Iconic and Catch is definitely opening us up to new customers.”

A focus on an expanded wholesale offering, which is already available through 620 doors nationally, will also be executed, as well as optimising the physical retail side of the brand. 

Perera will be implementing strategies honed during her role leading the Hush Puppies business back to growth. 

“If I think about Hush Puppies, we worked very carefully on our operating goals for the brand – brand handwriting, tone of voice, and staying true to the values of the brand – and I think all of those very much apply to Clarks,” Perera said. 

“The next thing we touched on was to get back to a customer-first mentality. It’s very easy to do things that Charlene likes, but the reality is that that isn’t necessarily the customer.”

According to Perera the business already trades very well in Australia, driven by a strong kid’s footwear business, but that Clarks has a much deeper brand value than just its kid’s range. 

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