Phil Turnage has been president of Mondottica USA in New Providence, NJ, since August 2015. Prior to that he was president of sales for Match Eyewear for nearly six years and rose through the sales ranks of Viva International Group for 15 years previously. VCPN’s editorial VP John Sailer met with him in the company’s NJ offices to discuss its merger with the global parent company and the changes that will result.
JOHN SAILER: Tell us a little about the background of Mondottica.
PHIL TURNAGE: Mondottica Inter- national sprung out of the U.K. in 2002 by founder Michael Jardine. He’s built a strong international presence in over 60 countries.
In 2010, Harvey Ross teamed with Michael to establish Mondottica USA, a distributor for select brands licensed to Mondottica International. The three primary brands have been Hackett, Pepe Jeans and Anna Sui.
The company grew mainly through multi-door retailers, and there was a decision over a year ago to place heavy emphasis on developing the independent channel. This has contributed to growth the past 18 months.
In May 2016, the U.S. merged with the international group becoming a subsidiary of Mondottica International. Harvey Ross remains an equity partner in the U.S. and sits on the board for Mondottica International. This was a positive move for the company aligning the U.S. with several Mondottica licenses as opposed to having a distribution arrangement.
Steve Tulba is group commercial director and CEO of Mondottica USA. I work closely with Steve to manage and grow the organization. He is a longtime colleague who is critical to our success in the U.S. for many reasons. Due to his experience in the domestic market, he understands the needs of our retail partners and cultural nuances. Steve has been a tremendous resource for the strategic direction and health of the organization.
The merger offers the U.S. the best of both worlds. Bringing the organizations together has enabled the U.S. to grow quickly in 2016. We are shoring up this growth by relocating to a 27,000-sq.-ft. state-of-the-art facility in mid-summer. This move will allow us to have full control over operations and be- come self-sufficient. We will have a customer showroom, administrative offices, a customer care center and a 16,000-sq.ft. warehouse.
SAILER: How does this help Mondottica strategically?
TURNAGE: We’ll enjoy economies of scale by having all operations under one roof. This also makes room for the distribution of several new collections being added to our portfolio in 2018. These brands include Karen Millen, Sandro, Maje and Spine.
SAILER: Tell us about Mondottica’s children’s eyewear.
TURNAGE: We continue to see success with Pepe Jeans Kids and feel there is more opportunity within this demographic. This is why we launched Zoobug London in the U.S. in August of last year. This diverse optical and sun collection was developed by pediatric ophthalmologist, Dr. Julie Diem Le, specializing in kid’s eyewear ranging from infants to 12 years old. Zoobug has been an interesting niche for Mondottica USA because of the technical aspects of the product.
SAILER: What other strategies will you implement in 2017?
TURNAGE: We are expanding our channels of trade within the U.S. The missed opportunity over the past several years has been with the ECP channel. We are building a sales force and management to grow this segment.
SAILER: What are your most prominent lines?
TURNAGE: Pepe Jeans and Hackett London continue to be Mondottica’s anchor brands in the U.S. Both collections generate a high retail turn and are favored by managed care providers.
Pepe is a youthful collection covering women’s, men’s and children’s with on-trend shapes and unique color combinations.
Hackett is a sophisticated men’s fashion collection offering a stylish range of thin acetates and metal with leather inlays. Hackett also includes a fashion-forward assortment of extended sizing ranging from 58 to 60 eye size.
Christian Lacroix and Joules are limited release collections that are offered to select retail partners as part of a regionally exclusive program in the U.S.