Up-and-coming brand FETCH recently opened their first superstore in the south western part of London, but that is only the first step of many, as Mark Lawrence assures us in our EAN interview. Mark, who runs FETCH together with his business partner, Nigel Glenn, also tells us about the retail concept of the superstore – and about his plans for the future of FETCH.
Congratulations on opening your first FETCH store in London. How was opening day, and how did the Londoners respond to the first FETCH Superstore? Mark Lawrence: Thank you! Our opening was an exhilarating success, with the ultimate London party to welcome the area’s first gay lifestyle superstore! The response from all that viewed the new store was precisely what we’d hoped for; enthusiasm for a fresh new store concept, that brings a great variety of not only products, but people – in an area that already has a vibrant LGBT+ population, we hope the store not only offers something new, but also adds to the wonderful community of Clapham in South West London.
What kind of shopping experience awaits the customers inside the store? And who is the audience you want to draw to your store?
We want to break free from normal retail expectations and create an experience that is fresh and community driven; an experience that feels more like a social meet between the community, where we are a safe space for people to meet, shop, hangout. Our audience is simple; everyone.
Let’s talk about the brand itself: What does FETCH stand for?
FETCH stands for a new refreshing take on the world of retail – and the purchase of everything Fashion, Fetish and Fun. An open space for the community, rather than just an ‘in and out’ purchase experience. We are excited to be working with many of the brands across London, clubbing, events and charity-focused, to enable everyone to enjoy our FETCH retail experience.
The idea for FETCH was developed by you, Mark, and your FETCH team. You have already been well-known faces in the adult industry, but still: Why did you decide to go back to the drawing board and develop a whole new brand?
The entire process has been an exciting opportunity to re-imagine retail as an experience, from the brands values to its customers, to their in-store options, interaction with our own teams, and also with other people that are experiencing FETCH! It’s been incredibly fulfilling to build a brand from the ground up; a brand that represent something new, fresh, and gives back to the community of London.
How much potential do you see for FETCH in the market?
We see absolutely no limit to its growth, as we have no limit to the experience and variety of products offered to FETCH customers. We’re excited, as we grow, for our FETCH customers, and partners, to grow with us.
Now that you have taken the first step into the bricks and mortar trade by opening your store in London, do you plan to expand your retail activities across Europe. Can you tell us more about your expansion strategy?
All we can say is; that we have some very exciting expansion plans – BUT, we’re going to have to keep you on your toes for now with that one! Think BIG!
The bricks and mortar trade in the adult market has been a difficult environment for some years, still, you want to open more stores. How does that go together?
The opinion that any market is a difficult environment is a common perception that allows brands to become lax in their product development and market engagement; this only makes space for new and disruptive market competitors – offering customers something new in a constantly competitive and changing market.
Are your plans to clone the concept of a gay super store that you’ve established in London, or do you want to/will you have to adapt to local or regional conventions?
We’re not a clone of any store, concept or previous marketing product – nor will any Fetch-related ventures or partnerships be as we grow and expand. This is an incredibly diverse market place, as are the people who form it– the real spirit of the community is what will truly set us apart from others. Our aim is quite simple: To be an internationally recognised retail advocate for fashion, fetish, and fun – that embodies the values and spirit at the heart of the communities that we serve.
Do you want to call all the shots yourselves, or could you imagine setting up a franchise system?
Never say never – but the ethos of Fetch must be right for any party concerned. Our aim would be to support the success of others through truly collaborative partnerships that allow all of us to grow together.
Today, there is no way around multi-channel marketing, really. So, will you also position Fetch in the e-commerce segment?
We’re incredibly excited about a new, state-of-the-art, online platform – launching very soon. We are planning to deliver a service the market place has never seen, or experienced, before. It will really bring meaning to the phrase “#GoFetch”.
Are you planning to manufacture your own products under the Fetch banner?
Oh, believe us! We’re making FETCH happen.
Which categories do you want to cover with your own products?
FETCH will be all things fashion, fetish and fun. We are already in early stage negotiations in developing what will be a real statement series of collections.
What type of strategy will you implement: working directly with the retailers or distributing the FETCH products via distributors and wholesalers?
We will pride ourselves on the importance of the relationships that we create, nourish and help to grow – our strategy is simple; that everyone involved is given the opportunity to succeed and flourish. We will be working either directly with retailers or through carefully selected agents who will embody the spirit of the FETCH brand ethos. Any enquiries or supplier deals should come through to email@example.com.
Do you have plans to wholesale products under the FETCH banner in the future?
For now, our focus has been on establishing the FETCH brand – however we do see huge potential in both distribution and manufacturing in the not too distant future. We are already exploring potential opportunities within different product categories outside of the FETCH brand and look forward to revealing all in the very near future!