Watch out: your boss might be feeling extra-boss in his new Boss suit. Hugo Boss outfits inhabitants of (and aspirants to) the corner office with brands including BOSS, a line targeted at executives; trendy, casual HUGO; and the more uptrend BOSS Selection. Hugo Boss designs and licenses clothes, accessories, cosmetics, and fragrances sold through its 1,200 shops and other retailers in some 80 countries. Known for its menswear, Hugo Boss has also entered womenswear, footwear, and leather goods. The firm was founded by its namesake in 1923 to make work clothes. It moved into suits in the 1950s and expanded beyond business wear in the 1990s. Hugo Boss is part of the Valentino Fashion Group.
Hugo Boss is looking to extend its brand control in European markets. To that end, in 2011 it acquired 15 Hugo Boss franchise stores in the UK from menswear retailer Moss Bros for £16.5 million ($26.6 million). The purchased raised the number of directly-operated Hugo Boss stores in the UK to 35. It has also been extending its reach into new product niches in recent years. It partnered with Swarovski Group to create a jewelry collection, under the BOSS Black and BOSS Orange names, which was introduced in 2008. The company also is looking to cater to children's fashion.
The company has been logging some noteworthy milestones and securing its foothold in China. In late 2006 Hugo Boss opened its 1,000th store, which was its first in Shanghai and represented its foray into China. Since then Hugo Boss has been concentrating on China, with its rapidly growing luxury market, to drive growth in Asia. To reach its lofty goal of making China its third-largest market, Hugo Boss in July 2010 inked a deal to form a joint venture with Chinese partner Rainbow. The joint venture, due to launch by the end of 2010, will be 60% owned by Hugo Boss.
Hugo Boss has given its Boss Woman business a shot in the arm (and brought it to the forefront), as well, by relaunching its women's accessories line. (BOSS Black and BOSS Orange, a leisure line that debuted in 2006, are its women's lines.) As a result, licenses to such companies as MH Shoes were brought back in-house and those product lines expanded. In turn, Boss Womenswear sales since 2005 have risen. Its women's line is still big business at Hugo Boss.
Succumbing to union pressure, the company in early 2010 announced it would keep its men's suit factory in Cleveland open. The decision came after a year of negotiations, during which Hugo Boss and Workers' United union were finally able to agree on the terms of a collective bargaining extension. It also reverses Hugo Boss' announcement at the end of 2009, in which the company said the Ohio plant had not been used to its full capacity, only producing two suit styles and no fashion garments, so it was in its best interest to shut the plant down.
A new bossman, Claus-Dietrich Lahrs, took the helm at Hugo Boss in August 2008. Formerly managing director of Christian Dior Couture, Lahrs fills the vacancy created when Bruno Salzer stepped down as CEO. Having been a part of the Hugo Boss management board since 1995, Salzer had been lauded for helping to boost the company's profit and left due to "different views on the further business policy of the company." – less