Renowned CEOs such as Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg may have propounded the benefits of wearing the same outfit everyday, but not Alexander Mattschull. And who can blame him?
As CEO of Takko Fashion, he has not just his own wardrobe, but whole collections at his fingertips. “I always wear something from Takko,” he reveals.
“Sometimes, it will be basics like socksor a T-shirt. Other times, it will be a pair of jeans or a polo shirt. My clothing tends to reflect my mood.”
Alexander hasn’t always been such a fashionista, and it wasn’t for want of trying on his father’s part. “I grew up in the textile industry. My father’s company was Takko Fashion’s biggest supplier,” he recounts.
“My father’s work was his life and I remember sitting at the dining table with my family listening to him talk about it. Back then, I had no interest in the company and I certainly never imagined I’d follow in his footsteps.”
But all that changed during his university years, when, at his father’s request, Alexander went on a trip to India to help find a location to set up a new factory.
“The year in India was life-changing. I learned a lot in the time I spent there, and I returned home knowing exactly how the textile production process works,” he says.
“It was also in India that I discovered my passion for the fashion industry. Today, I can’t imagine working anywhere else.”
Armed with that initial experience of establishing a factory, Alexander went on to set up many more foreign offices in India, as well as in China and Bangladesh. This was – and still is – a mammoth task, owing to Takko’s rapid and constant expansion.
The company is an affordable fashion retailer with a significant footprint and more than 1,900 stores in 17 European countries. Its latest foray is into France, where it opened 11 new stores in the last year alone. This was just a fraction of the 122 new stores that the firm launched in FY2018–19.
Besides managing the set up of Takko’s foreign locations, Alexander also oversaw product management, quality control and sourcing. But since taking on the role of CEO this year, his remit now includes human resources, logistics, IT and corporate communications.
Expansion has always been a key catalyst of growth for Takko. “We monitor our markets very closely for growth opportunities,” Alexander reveals.
The French market is currently a priority and the company plans to open more stores in the country.
However, this doesn’t mean that its existing stores are put on the back burner; Takko has an omnichannel strategy that, according to Alexander, generates around 85 store contacts for every 100 online orders which, in turn, provides potential for additional turnover.
An omnichannel strategy is one where the various channels of selling and promoting a product are integrated, and where data is shared between channels in order to provide a smooth transaction experience for the customer. An item may be out-of-stock in a customer’s size online, but available in a bricks-and-mortar store.
For Takko, in practice this means customers can buy directly from their webshop. So far, the online shop is only available in Germany.
“Our omnichannel strategy allows customers to engage with us across multiple touchpoints: at our stores, through our online shop, and on social media,” Alexander explains.
“Our omnichannel strategy allows customers to engage with us across multiple touchpoints."
“We unite these channels to provide customers with a seamless shopping experience. It’s important to us, because we want to let our customers decide how, where and when they shop.”
Never has the omnichannel strategy been more relevant than now, when retail is no longer limited to just bricks-and-mortar stores.
Takko’s webshop in Germany reflects this trend, showing a net growth in sales of about 30% in the past year.
“Digitalisation has had a big impact on consumer behaviour, which has changed considerably in recent years,” Alexander admits. “We have to respond to the latest trends as they spread like wildfire across social media.”
Fortunately, where digitalisation has created challenges, it has also brought benefits. “It has made our processes more efficient,” says Alexander.
“We operate in a very fast-moving industry, so it’s essential for us to be able to respond to changes with speed and flexibility.”
Technological advancements in the textile industry, such as virtual product development, has made creating new collections and designs a more efficient, simpler process.
In addition, Takko’s fully vertical structure also allows the firm to respond quickly to new market developments and changes in trends.
“We have transformed from having short-term, order-specific relationships with suppliers to long-term relationships. 80% of our sourcing is done with just 51 suppliers, most of whom have been working with us for more than nine years,” Alexander reveals.
Takko is careful about the suppliers it works with, choosing only to partner with those that have agreed to abide by the firm’s Code of Conduct.
Established in 2007, the code defines a clear framework for fair and safe employment. Some rules of the code include no hiring of child labour or any worker under the age of 15, no deductions from wages as a disciplinary measure, and no non-voluntary overtime work or any overtime work that exceeds 12 hours a week.
- Almost 18,000 employees
- 1982 year founded
- 17 number of countries Takko has a presence in
- More than 1,900 of bricks-and-mortar stores as of 31st January 2019
- More than 100,000 number of followers on Instagram, @takko_fashion
- More than 560,000 number of followers on Facebook, @TakkoFashion
Alexander shares the extent to which the firm has taken steps to ensure that the Code of Conduct isn’t just something that looks good:
“We set up a Procurement Compliance department at our Friedrichsdorf office. This team works with the CSR teams at our international offices in China, Bangladesh, India and Myanmar to monitor compliance with our Code of Conduct, create safe working environments for our factory employees and improve working conditions. Fairness and transparency are the building blocks of good relationships with suppliers. We always try to create a win–win situation for both sides.”
The firm’s stance on its workers’ welfare is a clear reflection of Alexander’s priorities in his leadership. “It isn’t just about safeguarding revenue and profits, but also about optimising internal structures,” he says.
“I believe that to be successful, organisations must continuously review their structures and work processes, and actively seek out new opportunities.
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