OFFICE is the aspirational fashion footwear brand for the youthful UK and European customer. A key differentiator for Office is its appeal to the young fashionable female customer. The Office brand focuses on the fashion-savvy ‘London girl’, bringing her a unique combination of the most wanted branded footwear and sneakers, and is positioned as ‘The London-centric, omni-channel hub for the fashion-conscious woman and all her footwear needs’.
OFFSPRING is focused on high-end fashion sneakers and provides young, fashionable and highly discerning male and female ‘sneaker obsessed’ customers with exclusive, limited edition and most sought-after styles that are in high demand. Offspring has a very well-established and powerful social media presence and is recognised and admired as ‘one of the most authentic and connected sneaker communities globally’. This community is central to Offspring’s unique positioning and enables ongoing collaboration and mutually beneficial partnerships with the world’s leading sneaker brands.
Office is committed to ethical and fair manufacturing. All own-label suppliers are required to comply with the Office Code of Ethics and Good Business Practice, which is designed to be fair, achievable and promote the ongoing development of suppliers. Regular factory visits are undertaken by the buying and technical teams to ensure quality and ethical production standards are being maintained. While travel was impacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, alternative methods were used to monitor quality standards, including the use of new technologies and virtual processes.
The code of ethics is based on international standards including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Labour Organisation Conventions. The code’s general principles are aimed at ensuring that all people who are employed by Office’s suppliers have decent working conditions, are not exploited and are treated fairly and with dignity. All products must be produced lawfully, through fair and honest dealings.
A formal statement from the board is published annually on the Office website in compliance with the UK Modern Slavery Act legislation.
FORECASTING FASHION TRENDS
Designers and buyers track trends and ensure the merchandise reflects the latest looks. Trend information is sourced through international trade fairs, online subscriptions, social media, international and local retail inspiration as well as global and local street trends. Celebrity styling and events are also analysed to ensure that ‘must-have’ items are available. The design team creates unique styles that are aligned with the Office handwriting to create a broad and exciting range of footwear for all the customer’s lifestyle needs.
Speed to market and trend reaction are increasingly important factors for both ladies’ and men’s product, as customers are exposed to trends sooner through social media and react and shop them immediately. Office’s fashion-orientated philosophy requires that the teams continually enhance and develop their knowledge of emerging fashion and consumer trends. This process has evolved in recent years through the sharing of knowledge of the Truworths’ robust buying, planning and sourcing processes.
THE OFFICE FASHION OFFERING
Office has a proud London heritage and its fashion footwear draws inspiration and gains credibility from its origins in the heart of one of the leading fashion capitals of the world. This heritage, together with the focus on the female consumer, makes Office a sought-after retail partner for the best fashion footwear and top sneaker brands globally. The branded offering is complemented by Office’s own-label fashion footwear ranges for women and men.
Recognised as a strategic account by its branded product partners, Office enjoys enhanced product access on best sellers and, in some instances, the opportunity to collaborate with key brands to design and develop unique product exclusively available in Office and Offspring stores. These relationships have been developed over many years and Office works closely with suppliers to identify future trends and build mutually beneficial strategies to enhance brand exposure and elevation.
Office holds a premium mainstream positioning and is committed to providing customers with quality footwear that is fashionable and in line with key lifestyle trends. Buying and technical teams work closely with suppliers to ensure Office’s product is of high quality and meets UK and European standards.
Office’s own label made-to-order (MTO) product is designed in-house and sourced globally from European and Asian countries of origin that offer excellent quality and value. European suppliers provide quick response and the ability to react speedily to demand. This is particularly important to ensure that Office features emerging trends in a highly competitive and fast-paced fashion footwear market.
In recent years, the Truworths buying and planning methodologies have been applied in Office. These proven processes have been implemented in order to improve stock management, ensure well-balanced ranges and drive improved margins through reduced markdowns.
FASHION IN 2022
Office continued to strengthen brand partner relationships through its positioning as a full-price retailer and its ability to connect with the key customer groups targeted by leading international footwear brands. The reopening of stores following the lockdown has created the opportunity to work with brand partners to cater for customers who choose high street over online shopping.
Following the disappointing performance of own-label product in recent years, Office has made great strides in developing a revitalised MTO product offering focused on delivering commercial fashion and reducing the number of styles to ensure a more focused range. New suppliers have been introduced to offer improved styling, fit, quality and value for money.
A new MTO buying and design team was appointed and internal processes improved to ensure on-time product delivery. The MTO range has been expanded to introduce wide-fit styles, a luxury footwear range and new menswear products, while new ranges such as handbags, accessories, socks and fragrances will be introduced in the new financial year.
Management aims to increase the contribution of the higher margin MTO category as a proportion of total sales to increase Office’s gross margin and to further entrench its unique market proposition.
The new MTO offering includes an increased focus on sustainably sourced materials across the core range. Sustainable ranges under the new brands Earthaddict and Earthchild will be introduced in the first half of the 2023 financial year and will feature sustainably sourced and recycled materials in the shoes and packaging. Each style will be labelled with its sustainability features and packaged in recyclable boxes.