Fashion Statement

With Sales Peaking, Designer Textile Maker Gerry Weber Turns to Television Advertising

Modemesse "The Gallery"
A retail buyer before a Gerry Weber showroom in Düsseldorf on July 26, 2014.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Gerry Weber’s decision to run television ads for the first time could signal an upturn in Germany’s advertising sector.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Gerry Weber has 5,000 employees at stores across the world.
    • The fashion house was founded in 1973 by Gerhard Weber and Udo Hardieck.
    • In 2012, Gerry Weber opened its first U.S. store, in Brooklyn, New York.
  • Audio

    Audio

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“We were young and restless,” Bryan Adams sang in his hit recording, “Summer of 69.”  It was 1984 and the Canadian rocker was looking back with longing to a wild summer from his younger years.

Decades later, starting in September, Mr. Adams will try to help German clothing manufacturer Gerry Weber go back in time and rejuvenate its fashion brand.

For the first time in its history, the family-owned firm based in the north-western German region of Westphalia is starting a prime-time TV campaign, according to a company spokeswoman. She wouldn’t say how much the advertising would cost.

The TV spots will include a song by Mr. Adams, who also photographed the latest fashions by Gerry Weber against a New York backdrop. The aim is to boost sales of the new “NY Collection,” which will be in stores this fall and was featured at the recent Fashion Fair in Düsseldorf. According to the company, the 54-year-old singer will “convey the modernity of the brand.”

The TV spots will include a song by Canadian singer Bryan Adams, who also photographed the latest fashions by Gerry Weber against a New York backdrop.

Gerhard Weber, chief executive officer, has for years been clearing out and condensing the company’s fashion collection. Earlier fashion themes included almost 100 items. Today there are only 30 to 35.

The company’s rejuvenation is not only taking place in stores. At the end of October, the 73-year-old CEO is moving to the supervisory board and will be replaced on the management board by his son, Ralf Weber, 50. He will not, however, take over his father’s role in top management.

“There will not be a chief executive officer, only a spokesman for the board,” the elder Mr. Weber said in February when he presented financial results. At the time, he left it open whether his son would take over the post.

 

Modemesse "The Gallery"
The new fall clothing collection of German designer Gerry Weber at a show in Düsseldorf on July 26, 2014. Source: DPA

 

In the meantime, however, a decision was made – David Frink, 41, who has been on the management board since 2009, will be the new chief executive. Mr. Frink will be joined on the board by Ralf Weber and Arnd Buchard, 45.  They will “act as a management trio,” the company said.

As founder, Gerhard Weber always had a special and decisive role in the fashion company. He and Udo Hardieck set up the firm in 1973, transforming it from a tiny maker of pants in Halle, Westphalia, into an internationally active fashion company. Today, the senior Mr. Weber holds 29 percent of company shares, directly and indirectly. Mr. Hardieck owns a about 17 percent.

Gerhard Weber’s final appearance at a news conference in February was not so happy an occasion. For the first time in 10 years, his company did not increase revenues. Earnings before interest and taxes sank by 8.7 percent to €106 million ($142.4 million).

In the current year, Mr. Weber hopes for an improved operating profit of at least €120 million ($161 million). The new figures, however, will be presented by his successor.

Georg Weishaupt is an editor at Handelsblatt. He can be reached at weishaupt@handelsblatt.com

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