Per Gasseholm is a seasoned industry figure boasting a CV studded with names such as Levi Strauss and Danish BTX Group.
In June 2014, he stepped in as CEO of Danish brand Wood Wood to work alongside founders and designers Karl-Oskar Olsen and Brian SS Jensen. Here, Gasseholm reveals what strategic measures he’ll be taking to move the brand forward.
What was your initial goal when your tenure at Wood Wood started last year?
Short-term, the focus was on boosting the business. After 12 years’ on the scene, the company had yet to turn a profit. The first step involved strategies and action plans to ensure that everyone within the company was aligned with what had to happen. Considering the success of the brand itself, it quickly became clear it was more of a growth strategy than a cost cutting exercise.
What strategies have you put in place so far?
We went on to change or tweak certain points on four fronts; we first turned our attention to product & product flow, defining our reason-for-being and implementing monthly deliveries as opposed to two annual drops. We needed newness and excitement on the retail floor on an on-going basis. Secondly, we looked carefully at distribution & sales by identifying our core market markets and establishing our own offices and/or agents in each of these markets, allowing us to be in close proximity to our retail partners. Naturally, we also looked at cost efficiency and staffing, defining the skills required to reach our goals and strengthen the team in all key positions.
The brand mixes well in both fashion and streetwear circles. How has this rather delicate balance been achieved and maintained?
Over the years, the brand has established itself within the more contemporary side of “fashion”, yet it has always remained true to its roots in streetwear with the ability to move up and down the fashion ladder. We will maintain this balance through a segmentation strategy, ensuring clarity of the different roles that street basics and contemporary fashion respectively play in the overall collection, and indeed in the stores.
What is it about Scandinavian fashion that appeals to buyers and consumers and how does Wood Wood contribute to its strength?
There is no one answer to that and one should never generalize; that said, I believe Scandinavian fashion design is respected and known for its functional simplicity and honesty. A brand has to be more than “just fashion” – there has to be a reason for being – and a reason for doing what you do.
Wood Wood is perhaps best known for its menswear. What is the ratio between the men’s and women’s offerings and is this figure likely to change in the future?
There may be a perception out there that Wood Wood is predominantly a menswear brand. The fact is that it offers a 50/50 balance between men’s and women’s. Womenswear may be the bigger opportunity based on consumption, but currently we don’t prioritize one over the other
Wood Wood’s flagship store in Copenhagen is a respected multibrand destination. What is the formula behind the concept?
It is more than just a shop – it’s a destination for our target consumer. The formula is about creating a reason for our customers to drop in and hang out. Retailing today is as much about entertaining as it is about product.
You operate a handful of additional stores in cities such as Copenhagen, Aarhus and Berlin. Are there plans for further stores, and if so where?
Over the last year, we have streamlined the operational side of our retail division. We are now analysing markets in which to potentially roll out our retail concept further. Stay tuned.
How important are tradeshows and fashion weeks, and which ones do you seek out?
To be honest, I’m not convinced the role of tradeshows hold the same value as it did some years ago. Since we are currently establishing offices and showrooms in many markets, we need to reconsider if we really do get value for money participating in the “tradeshow-circus.”