Belfast Telegraph

Vans and Timberland’s European boss doubles down on UK investment

Recently announced shop openings mark the company’s ‘commitment’ to Britain, Martino Scabbio Guerrini said.

Vans is opening a new flagship store in the heart of London (VF Corporation)
Vans is opening a new flagship store in the heart of London (VF Corporation)

By Alys Key, PA City Reporter

The boss of the company behind footwear brands Vans and Timberland has said the UK will still be central to its strategy after Brexit.

Martino Scabbio Guerrini, group president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at VF Corporation, told the PA news agency the company’s recent signing of two new shops in the capital showed “a lot of commitment to London and the UK in a time when there’s questions around that”.

“In this case we are sticking to our long-term strategy and the UK’s a really important market,” he said.

VF, which owns a host of brands including The North Face, Eastpak and Kipling, said last month it will be opening a new flagship Vans store at the former Miss Selfridge in Oxford Street.

A few weeks later it was revealed the group had secured a site in Carnaby Street for a new Timberland store.

Despite the challenges facing the UK retail sector and the uncertainty posed by Brexit, Mr Scabbio Guerrini said the company’s plans for its UK operations would help it to weather the storm.

“To a certain extent there’s a little bit of an overlap in our work to invest into the marketplace, to improve the customer experience and the preparation for various Brexit outcomes.”

He added there is scope for more shop openings around the UK and emphasised VF’s confidence in the future of bricks-and-mortar locations, which he said can co-exist with online shopping.

But he said physical retailers need to keep up with the times to survive.

Commenting on the high number of UK high street shops struggling in the current climate, he said: “They were not open and somehow bold enough to address change early on.

“I always say I’m not afraid of change, I’m scared of not changing. Because the speed of technology today is very different from 10 years ago.

“People are shopping on their phones within only a few years. The last five years have quickly turned the company upside down.”