Local clothing brand stands up to foreign brands


BERNIE Liu and his wife Alice

Other local brands tried to woo Hollywood stars but failed.

But when Zac Efron did his homework on Penshoppe and heard it was a cool brand, he was more than happy to accept his very first fashion support.

Efron’s support is a compliment to Filipino entrepreneurship.

Bernido Liu, president and CEO of fashion company Golden ABC Inc., laughed when he remembered Penshoppe’s graphic t-shirt business in Cebu in 1986.

After 26 years, Penshoppe has grown into a supplier of high quality fashion at affordable prices, with no less than Efron, Ed Westwick and Mauro Maurer as picture models.

“We have adapted to market demands and increased the desirability and value of the brand. From a simple t-shirt, it has become a lifestyle brand, ”explains Liu.

Penshoppe is the flagship product of Golden ABC Inc., which gave birth to other brands such as the avant-garde Oxygen, Memo for office wear and ForMe for women of different body types. To further enhance its image, Golden ABC Inc. acquired Regatta, the ambitious casual wear brand, and Tyler, the upscale brand.

Raise the flag

Liu boldly argues that Golden ABC’s brands can stand up to foreign labels, which have themselves become world-class. About 70 percent of the products are made in the Philippines.

“We hoist the flag everywhere we go. In the Middle East, we will end the year with 10 stores in Arabia, Bahrain and Dubai. We franchise brands. You have to work with the right partners, ”says Liu in an exclusive interview with the Edsa Shangri-la Hotel.

In the Philippines, the Golden ABC brands ended 2011 with 500 stores. It is targeting 600 stores by the end of the year. The company has also ventured into direct selling with its Red Logo label and a Consumer Group division that sells perfumes and cosmetics under the Acquabella label. The company grew at an estimated 60 percent last year. With the opening of new stores, the expansion of its Red Logo direct dealership, the distribution of its consumer goods and its foray into the high-end market, Golden ABC is targeting 80% growth this year.

COOL decor for Penshoppe with a red carpet-like treatment by a team from Hong Kong

“Success lies in the four Ps of marketing: product, location, promotion and price. With this convergence, we are experiencing unprecedented growth and progress, ”Liu said. “These are exciting times. We have been blessed. These are part of our desire to level up. After all, the Filipino has also increased his sophistication.

Strategic growth

In 2009, Liu acquired Regatta, a casual clothing line reminiscent of the casual lifestyle of the Hamptons or Ralph Lauren.

Regatta was created in the late 1980s by Lizzie Zobel and was later bought by Mia Dragon-Floirendo. Under Golden ABC, she strived to improve the product, the sales environment, and raise the level of sophistication of her campaign with foreign models photographed overseas. Its merger with National Geographic and Discovery Channel left the public with the impression that it was an imported brand. However, they were pleasantly surprised by the affordable price tags of top notch clothing. From four stores, it has grown to 26 branches with ten more openings this year.

“We have restored Regatta to its original appearance and position. It’s the brand our kids grew up in. Fashion basics are stronger than ever, ”adds Alice Liu, vice president of retail.

When Eman Pineda, founder of high-end label Tyler, tried to part ways with him, he trusted Liu with his accomplishments, including raising the profile of Regatta. Alice said Pineda was impressed with Golden ABC’s sound business management and strategic growth.

“It is difficult for a retailer to develop a Filipino brand to its full potential. Although there are many retailers, these are franchises of foreign brands. Eman (Pineda) saw what we did at our brands. I am very proud to say that we are the only Filipino company to offer all of the local brands in our portfolio. I resisted the tempting offers to acquire franchises of foreign brands, given our network and our structure. I am very focused on developing our exclusive brands, ”says Liu.

Many malls, including new ones, wanted to invite Tyler as one of their tenants. Liu said he is still in the process of redeveloping and integrating into Golden ABC.

Flexing muscles

Meanwhile, Penshoppe flexed his muscles. “We are preparing to fight on a global scale. Other brands have this “bango” factor. We have to make sure we’re on par with them, ”says Alice.

Regarding his choice of endorsers, Liu points out that they just don’t get anyone popular. “Fame must be aligned with fashion,” he says.

While prominent Hollywood sponsors may draw attention to the brand, ultimately the product and in-store experience determines the verdict. Therefore, Golden ABC hired a Hong Kong-based company to redesign Penshoppe’s stores, which feature a video wall and state-of-the-art lighting and sound system. Even the sellers have undergone a makeover.

“Everything is clean and simple in the presentation. A good team of visual merchandisers tells our story. What makes the cash register ring is the merchandise, ”Liu said.

Penshoppe has received inquiries from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, United States, Australia and South Africa.

“I don’t want to overdo it. Opening a store is easy, but keeping it open isn’t. I don’t want to commit and under-deliver. Penshoppe has 250 stores and we haven’t renovated 10 percent. That’s all we have yet to do, ”Liu said.

Without any hype, direct selling and consumer group activities are growing exponentially. Now in its fourth year, Red Logo, the direct sales line, has grown 17%. It now has 27 branches in the Philippines with over 50,000 active resellers. The top sellers were rewarded with an all-expenses-paid trip to Beijing.

“It’s heartwarming to see how the business could change people’s lives,” says Alice, of how the business, through Red Logo, has provided opportunities for entrepreneurship.

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Gladys T. Hensley