Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of a successful business. We have. The sisters recently spoke to Matthew and Debra from Renata about their recent buying trip. They have been doing this trip for twice a year for thirty years. Europe and back in six days flat, two internal flights, two cities, a first class upgrade forced on them by Ethiad, a spot of personal shopping, a dose of flu, stock for winter 2013, a quick catch up with friends and dodging wealthy Russian buyers at the new Basler showroom. We think it’s a great story.
While the serious buying is done in Düsseldorf, the first stop is Munich. Arriving early morning, they have a a local hotel room to shower, change and leave their bags. Then its straight to the Bogner Showroom. This is the last opportunity to top up Renata’s current season stock, pick up pieces for individual clients, and do some shopping for friends and family. Cornelia Scho who runs the showroom is both a valued friend and their liaison person within the company. Lunch with her in the Bogner kitchen is both a welcome break and an opportunity to catch up on local gossip and news since their last trip.
After lunch, they collect their bags and head straight to the airport for a Lufthansa flight to Düsseldorf where they check into the Excelsior Hotel.
They have been staying here for many years, its like home and they are treated like family by hotel staff. It’s their first opportunity to get to bed in forty-eight hours. They are dead of their feet. They consume a cheese and salami roll brought on the way through the airport, a quick glass of wine and hit the sack.
Next morning its off to the first Gerry Webber collection at Rhinemetalalle Allee. By now on automatic pilot, Debra can remember nothing of what they saw or what they brought.
All she can tell us is that they apply a buying formula that they have developed and tested over many years, and which they know works well.
The afternoon is the only free personal time of the trip and they head straight to Konigsallee. Known as “Ko” to the locals this area equals the Champs Elysees and Fifth Avenue as one of the most prestigious shopping precincts in the world.
So what did these fashionistas buy. Matthew finds a suit, two shirts and a belt he can’t live without from Giorgio Armani and for Deb, its sunglasses from Bulgari and a wallet from Gucci. Prada for shoes is another favourite but they don’t buy this trip. It’s an early dinner in a local restaurant, back to the Excelsior for a night-cap, a chat with the staff and bed.
Bogner next morning , and its serious buying. They view models, choose their stock and place orders for winter 2013. They won’t see this stock again until it arrives in the shop in October 2012.
Basler in the afternoon. It’s exciting as there is a new designer, a new showroom and a great new look. It’s frantically busy, with buyers from all over the world. The Russians are out in full force. They are Europe’s nouveau riche. They have become very wealthy very quickly and waste no time flaunting it. Even President Putin says they have bad manners and poor taste. We would love to know what they buy but Deb and Matthew need to concentrate on their own work so no more information is available.
That afternoon its buying from the second Gerry Webber collection. It’s really busy, Gerry is buzzing around and they catch up with and old friend from Bogner, Monique who is now head of export. Deb now has signs of impending flu so they pass on the opportunity to catch up with friends from Canberra who have a similar business, and head to bed. Pity as the friends are going to a restaurant run by exuberant excitable Italians which turns into a cigar bar at 8pm every night.
On the last day they pack and head to Louisa Cerano for a 9am start. Six foot models in towering stilettos are everywhere, and buying is easy as it’s a great collection. They finish their work, collect their bags and head to the airport for a four-hour wait for their flight to Munich. They leave Munich for Sydney via Abu Dhabi at 10.30 that evening and have a stroke of luck. The Etihad staff need to make room for some business class passengers and ask how Matthew and Deb feel about travelling to Sydney in the first class cabin. No need to ask twice they are off to first class in a shot. It’s totally gorgeous . They conclude that it’s the only way to travel , especially if you are not paying for it.
But is it as easy as it looks. We suspect not. No doubt their buying is part intuition. But it’s also partly a strategy that has evolved from a stong relationship with clients and suppliers developed over many years. They must remain highly focused, on top of their game and on top of the trends.
When you walk into Renata in Launceston and Hobart, evidence of the focus, strategy and sheer hard work that makes this a very successful business model is obvious everywhere.
We have requested photographs and more in-depth information from the next trip in August this year.