Q&A: Joe Irons, chief marketing officer at Charles Tyrwhitt
Here we chat with Joe Irons, chief marketing officer of Charles Tyrwhitt, about the recent launch of the menswear brand’s new store concept at Centre:mk in Milton Keynes.
What is the strategy behind the new store design format?
We know our customers are making conscious decisions each morning about how to dress for the day ahead. In days gone by, the working wardrobes for many men were simple – a nice suit and a formal dress shirt. We’ve done a lot of work to make our product offer more relevant for how men now dress. We can see men’s work wear trends are changing and there’s a blurring of lines between weekdays and weekends.
Increasingly we know our customer is varying his work wear wardrobe with chinos, more casual shirts and polos, knitwear and jackets all coming to the forefront; and indeed, this carries across into evening and weekend wardrobes. Our new store design is very much focused on how to best present that modern man’s wardrobe, while still showcasing our Tyrwhitt charm.
Your debut new store design was launched at Centre:mk in Milton Keynes. Can you tell us why you chose this location?
We chose Centre:mk because we were confident it would attract our target customer and we were able to agree a reasonable commercial model. Alongside that, we’ve always had a soft spot for Milton Keynes, as it’s the home of our UK distribution centre and customers services team.
How is your Centre:mk store performing so far?
We’re delighted with the customer reaction and pleased with our initial sales response. We fully expect trade to strengthen further as we approach the peak trading period.
Are you able to tell us about the roll out of this new store format and what the process looks like?
Centre:mk Milton Keynes was the first new location Charles Tyrwhitt opened this year, but we have quickly followed that up with new stores in Reading, London Victoria and Chelmsford. We are also applying elements of our Centre:mk store design into some of our existing stores.
This is the brand’s first new store since 2018, so can you tell us a bit about what the future looks like for Charles Tyrwhitt?
Charles Tyrwhitt is a multichannel retailer operating in a number of international markets. Our focus is very much on further growing our brand footprint and customer reach, continuing to make our clothes relevant for our customers and attracting new customers to the brand.
What is the most exciting in-store experience that Charles Tyrwhitt offers its customers?
Without a doubt our custom shirts service! Customers get one-on-one time with our experts in-store, and they design the whole shirt, from bean to cup. We bring that design to life, from the fabrics picked to the smaller aesthetic details. It’s a super satisfying process for our team and customers too.
Tell us a bit about some of the brand’s sustainable initiatives
We’re proud to have rolled out our shirt recycling scheme, and our customers are really making the most of it which is great to see. Customers can simply bring in their old shirts and polos – whether they’re Tyrwhitt or not – and we send them to The British Heart Foundation for reselling if they’re in decent nick, or recycling. Either way, we’re saving shirts that were destined for landfill, and as a retailer, we need to be responsible for avoiding waste as best we can. After all, our shirts are made to last, so they deserve a second life.
As a thank you, customers get money off a brand-new shirt, so it’s the definition of a win-win. We have also partnered with Planet Mark and Ecologi to first measure our carbon footprint, then design a plan to reduce our carbon emissions and finally to offset the balance. As a result, we’re pleased to have become a carbon neutral business.
What are some of the challenges and opportunities you see for the business in the next few years?
Clearly there are a number of macro headwinds for retailers to navigate right now and there’s no sign of this abating in the near future. That said, strong differentiated brands who are close to what their customers want will be well placed to weather the storms. We see plenty of opportunity in both domestic markets and internationally across stores and online.
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