Mulberry Willow Tote

It’s been a turbulent year for handbag favorite Mulberry. First, creative director Emma Hill left at the end of last summer, amid rumors that she and management weren’t exactly getting along. Now, word broke late last week that CEO Bruno Guillon has up and quit, ending his short run with the brand, which Reuters characterized as “turblent.” What happens from here?

Guillon came on board at Mulberry just over two years ago from French powerhouse Hermes, and in that time, news on the brand’s business side hasn’t been particularly positive. During his tenure, the company’s stock went into free fall after a series of profit warnings to investors, dropping from a high of a $2.5 billion valuation to a current level of just under $660 million, according to Reuters. The warnings came as a result of sales slowdowns, and many fans of the brand on our Forum speculate that Mulberry’s price increase strategy under Guillon was a big factor in the falling numbers.

Coming from a premier designer background, Guillon sought to elevate Mulberry from the realm of “contemporary luxury” that it previously occupied, much to the chagrin of many of its longtime fans. “Elevation” meant hefty price increases, and when frictions over that strategy lead to the exit of longtime fan favorite (and Mulberry Alexa creator) Hill, many loyal buyers simply were not willing to play ball any longer – page upon page of buyer frustrations were aired in our Forum’s Mulberry section alone. When you try to move a consumer base that’s used to buying day bags in the $1,200 – $1,700 price range up to a $2,700 day bag in a matter of only a couple of seasons, that kind of trouble is sure to follow without a clear demonstration of increased value, which many felt Mulberry had never provided.

The brand has yet to name a successor to Hill, despite the fact that her exit was announced nearly nine months ago, and other than announcing a high-profile capsule collection with “It” model Cara Delevingne, Mulberry seems to be in creative limbo that has no end in sight. Longtime brand employee Godfrey Davis will act as interim CEO until Guillon’s permanent replacement can be found, and it’s unlikely that a new creative director will be named before that executive is in place.

For now, we can only speculate about what might be ahead for Mulberry, which does an overwhelming majority of its revenue in handbags and leather goods. Emma Hill was beloved by many of its fans, and it seemed like she intuitively understood the brand’s natural position in the market – not fully contemporary, not fully premier, but right in the middle, attracting both boho California girls and fashion-conscious women who needed a smart, appropriate bag to carry to the office. The prices hit that same sweet spot, which is teeming with buyers looking to snap up bags from brands like 3.1 Phillip Lim and Alexander Wang. Guillon’s strategy aimed to move away from those buyers, which appears to have been a mistake. Hopefully whoever is brought on to succeed him will be able to right the ship.

For now, you can shop Mulberry’s current offerings at Net-a-Porter.

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  • Gerard Quintero

    doest really surprise me its happened to LV before they are also losing sales even thought LV has a huge following fan base (more than Mulberry) so its not surprising that they are not doing well.

  • Gerard Quintero

    I remember when Mulberry was a good, honest brand that charged a large but reasonable amount for its high quality and well designed bags. Now they are trying too hard to become the next Chanel/Hermes.

  • Gerard Quintero

    Mulberry is pricing itself out of the market :(

  • http://www.thebaghoarder.com/ TheBagHoarder

    I totally lost interest at Mulberry. Before you could snap up a good designed and well priced bag. But now, they’re expensive and not really appealing to me (and a lot of other people).

  • Grace

    I used to buy a lot of Mulberry (I own about 10 bags and tons of slg’s), but haven’t been tempted to buy anything since the rudiculous price increases. Their Bayswater will set you back 1450 euros now, over twice the original 750 euros! I’m sticking to pre-loved pieces until they rethink their strategy. Let’s just hope a new designer and new ceo will help them on their way back to the brand we used to love.

  • FashionableLena

    I think that you hit the nail on the head. It’s the prices. The bags are really nice but not $2700 basic, everyday bag nice. They were good designs and logo-free which appeals to a majority of handbag lovers. Once you start charging those premium prices without changing the product, you will have bags languishing on the shelf. A good leather bag is a dime a dozen.
    Too bad because Mulberry could have gotten a loyal following after the somewhat success of the Alexa bag.

  • XXL

    Price increase worked out well for huge brand names such as LV/Chanel because you have rich Chinese paying for the names. The more expensive, the more desirable. I’m Chinese & I understand my roots so no offense to my people. Not many heritage lovers will chase after Mulberry when it’s twice the price and not many Chinese know Mulberry. Most Chinese women I know will not pay for a name their peers have never heard of. I’m sure this applies to the ignorant and rich of other cultures as well but I’m just telling what I know.

    Mulberry is taking advantage of its customers who know how to appreciate humble beauty. Their management team’s got their heads up in the clouds.. or butts. Alexa days are long gone but hey, my loyalty remains with my ink. I rather spend my dollars on a Sac De Jour as much as I dislike Heidi.

    Either you be humble and nice about your products, or you be a dick and target the arrogant ones. I love you but you gotta learn your place Mulberry.

  • shueaddict

    I travel to UK regularly and it appeares to me that Mulberry is a super loved brand for first time designer bag purchase. A lot of “real” women carry Mulberry in everyday life. It is nice to see them proudly buying British and not LV. I own a Bayswater and a Del Rey and love them to bits but I simply cannot bring myself to spend 2000 EUR on the Willow (even if technically you’re buying 2 bags) . There is a definitely a huge segment of women who’d pony 1k + for a good bag; but I don’t think you can persuade them to go to 2k. Our salaries, alas, do not grow at the same rate as designer prices.

  • Silversun

    Amanda, what do you make of the analysts’ predictions that LVMH and/or Kering might be priming themselves for a takeover? Do you think that would be a good thing for the brand?

  • MulberryDiscountDesigners

    MULBERRY, DESIGNER or DISCOUNTER

    ******COMPLAINT******

    Hello,

    I would like to express my disappointment regarding a recent purchased, Suffolk bag from your new range on 27th December 2013. I was astonished to see that the Suffolk bag, that no more than six months ago, I paid £1550.00, was reduced to clear at 50% of its original price.

    As a well established English designer of quality products, it is important for me the consumer to believe that I am getting value for money, not purchasing a lucky dip on a product that may or may not crash after six months.

    ******REPLY******

    Dear Mr X

    Thank you for your email regarding your Suffolk bag and I am sorry to hear of your upset at discovering the price of this design has since been reduced.

    Items will normally only feature in the end of season sale if they are not being continued through to our next collection in a particular colour or type of leather, or the design itself is not carrying through into the next season.

    We do appreciate your disappointment however as your bag was purchased 6 months ago, we regret that unfortunately we would be unable to offer you any form of exchange or alternative solution in this instance.

    Thank you for taking the time to write to us with your feedback, which I will pass on the relevant departments, and I am sorry we are unable to help further on this particular occasion.

    Kindest Regards

    Rebecca Groom
    Customer Solutions Manager
    Mulberry Design Ltd
    The Rookery
    Chilcompton, Somerset BA3 4EH
    UK

    Tel +44 (0)1761 234 273
    Fax +44 (0)1761 233 436

  • MulberryDiscountDesigners

    ******MY COMPLAINT******

    Hello,

    I would like to express my disappointment regarding a recent purchased, Suffolk bag from your new range on 27th December 2013. I was astonished to see that the Suffolk bag, that no more than six months ago, I paid £1550.00, was reduced to clear at 50% of its original price.

    As a well established English designer of quality products, it is important for me the consumer to believe that I am getting value for money, not purchasing a lucky dip on a product that may or may not crash after six months.

    ******MULBERRY RESPONSE******

    Dear Mr X

    Thank you for your email regarding your Suffolk bag and I am sorry to hear of your upset at discovering the price of this design has since been reduced.

    Items will normally only feature in the end of season sale if they are not being continued through to our next collection in a particular colour or type of leather, or the design itself is not carrying through into the next season.

    We do appreciate your disappointment however as your bag was purchased 6 months ago, we regret that unfortunately we would be unable to offer you any form of exchange or alternative solution in this instance.

    Thank you for taking the time to write to us with your feedback, which I will pass on the relevant departments, and I am sorry we are unable to help further on this particular occasion.

    Kindest Regards

    Rebecca Groom
    Customer Solutions Manager
    Mulberry Design Ltd

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