The Interview: Tom Bettinson, Country Manager UK and Ireland, Rains
Danish contemporary rainwear brand Rains opened its third UK retail store at 20 Earlham Street in London’s Seven Dials at the end of November, and there are plans afoot to have between 8-10 stores in the UK by the end of 2021; a bold statement indeed in what is a tricky retail landscape. Country manager, Tom Bettison, tells us how the brand is developing.
How have you seen Rains grow since you joined the brand in April 2017?
We have seen strong growth in our wholesale and e-commerce business over the past year in particular. We launched our UK dedicated website in 2018, when we also started our UK retail division. We now have three stores in the UK, including the new one on Earlham Street in Seven Dials, which we opened at the end of November. The first store we opened was in Islington in April 2018, followed by a store in Coal Drops Yard in October 2018.
Are there plans to open more Rains stores in the UK going forward
Yes, the plan is to open more UK stores and we would like to have 8-10 stores in the UK by the end of 2021. We don’t have any other locations signed as yet, but we will be looking at key cities in the north, plus any other opportunities in London. Seven Dials marks the 25thstore internationally. Our top performing stores include Paris, New York, Amsterdam and Copenhagen.
Why was Earlham Street in Seven Dials selected as the location for the third permanent Rains store in the UK?
Seven Dials represents a certain ambience and vibe that appeals to the Rains customer, and the new flagship store will compliment and adapt to the surroundings in both the fit-out and experience. The neighbourhood hosts a great mix of international brands with a strong design aesthetic.The reaction to the new store has been fantastic. We have seen a lot of locals and tourists, and sales performance has also been great.
What is the size and design concept of the new store?
The store is 700 sq ft and will host customisation and launch events as the primary London concept store. It will showcase both limited editions and store-exclusive collections. The space is outfitted in Rains’ signature Scandinavian take on a ‘nature meets tech’ environment.
What does Rains specialise in?
Based on an early initiative to reinterpret the traditional rubber raincoat in a contemporary way Rains has, since 2012, grown into an accomplished international rainwear brand mixing function with fashion. In addition to waterproof outerwear, Rans offers a line of waterproof bags and accessories. All products are made from our signature PU fabric, which is waterproof (4,000mm column pressure). The seams are stitched and ultrasonically welded to keep the water out. We base our collections on classic archetypes and update them with a Scandinavian design aesthetic.
Is the Rains offer geared more towards men or women?
We do design some pieces specifically with men or women in mind but, ultimately, we pride ourselves as a unisex brand, open to all. We have quite a balanced split in terms of revenue between men’s and women’s apparel and accessories.
What pieces are currently the best sellers?
Our core program of jackets – "Jacket" and "Long Jacket" - are extremely popular. As are the core accessories, "Backpack", "Backpack Mini", "MSN Bag" and "Weekend Bag". Popular new styles include the puffer jackets and rolltop rucksacks.
What are the brands strongest markets?
The UK, USA, France, Germany and Scandinavia are our strongest markets. The brand translates very well to a wide range of customer demographics in these markets due to its minimal and functional design. Price points are also competitive with jackets retailing between £75-£89, bags at £59-£69 and the new puffer jackets at £299.
Are there any new product categories that are being introduced for SS20, and AW20?
We launch a new collection titled "Rains Ultralight" for SS20, which revolves around the concept of movement. It is lightweight, breathable and waterproof. For AW20, we will further develop our "Layers" and "Thermal" categories. We have also been getting a lot of requests for footwear, but we are still in the development stages with that.
What is the size of Rains current wholesale market in the UK?
We currently work with approximately 100 wholesale accounts in the UK and Ireland, across multiple channels – men’s and women’s fashion retailers, outdoors retailers, design and lifestyle retailers and luggage retailers. Our department store business with Selfridges on luggage, Liberty with our men’s and women’s offer, and Harvey Nichols on men’s, women’s and accessories have all been performing very well in 2019.
What are the sustainability credentials of Rains products?
We released our company CSR policy, "Light The Way", online earlier this year, which gives an overview of all aspects of the business on the sustainability front.
Will now having physical retail presence raise the brand's profile in the UK and help to grow the wholesale side?
Our growing presence in wholesale, e-commerce and, more recently, in retail bricks and mortar stores, work in combination with one another to build the brand in the UK.
Are you planning any in-store events going forward?
We are hosting events regularly in all three of our UK stores. The next ones will be in the new year, when we launch our SS20 collections.