For most people, a global health crisis isn’t an ideal time to launch a business. But rather than focus on any of the negatives, The Camp BCN’s (The Camp) Co-Founders and Managing Partners, David Meire and Javier Carrera, prefer to look at the positives.
“People say to us that they are so sorry we started in such a tough year,” Javier says. “But for us, it’s the biggest opportunity because we wanted to start very light and not make the mistakes that the big companies are confronting now.”
The duo, who have decades of corporate experience in marketing sportswear and fashion brands between them (David spent much of his 20 years at Nike in executive roles and Javier has held similar positions at Quiksilver, Nike and Pepe Jeans London) acknowledge their fortune at having seen firsthand the issues big businesses meet – and “what they inherit from the old-school style of running a business,” Javier says.
Having spotted a gap in the market for a digital-first platform that could propel brands (both established and startups) looking to enter the EMEA marketplace to the next level, the decision was made to “just do it”, as their previous employer would say.
Both had reached a point in their careers where the next step was to leave Europe for the US, something neither of them wanted to do.
We have a very good track record in the industry and a great reputation both with brands and with retailers. – David Meire
“We said to each other, ‘Now is the time,’” David explains. With The Camp, David and Javier are offering brands which lack the funding or desire to establish their own headquarters in the region, an alternative to the traditional agent model, one which David labels “old-fashioned”.
“It’s push, push, sell, sell, move to the next brand,” he says. “There was no long-term view of growing a brand in the market and, therefore, no long-term partnership.” Instead, the duo has created an operating base where brands can plug in and out without compromising the structure of the company itself.
“The idea is that The Camp is a camp site where investors, executives and brands get together, and use it as a platform to develop fast and efficient businesses,” Javier says. The digital nature of the company gives them both speed of set-up and agility, so it can adapt to a variety of operational formats.
“One brand may want us to set up a team, run it for five years and then hand it back. Or we may sign a long-term licence agreement with another,” Javier says, adding that the market is currently too fragmented for this type of service.
“There’s no-one who has the experience and the reach across the whole region, including the Middle East and Africa, plus the connections that we do because of the roles we’ve held before.” Their reputation sets them apart or, as David puts it: “Our names have equity.
“I say this humbly, but we have a very good track record in the industry and a great reputation both with brands and with retailers,” he says. It was this that saw the pair license American surf apparel and accessories label Hurley’s EMEA operations from Hurley USA and purchase the operational company in the territory.
“The beginning has been word of mouth, which is great because that has come solely from reputation,” David affirms. Licensing Hurley EMEA was a strategic move. “It’s given us the complexity, the channels and the operations platform that any big brand would need in order to feel comfortable about handing over their business to us to run,” Javier says.
In Hurley, they see a brand with huge potential. “We know we can grow it 10 times in the next few years.” While Hurley will always be what David calls the “poster child of The Camp”, an example of what they can achieve together, both agree that the business won’t be limited to it and they are proactively seeking new labels in the fashion/sports environment.
Two additional names have come into the fold: Australian sporting label 2XU and a top US-based American apparel brand.
“We want to make sure that we have a balanced stable and a big enough portfolio of brands in the better-to-best segment of the market,” David says.
“We’re building a matrix of selected premium brands that we are personally excited about and which give us a well-balanced portfolio that, rather than cannibalising, complements the services they need and the way we can operate them,” Javier adds.
While The Camp will attract those private equity funds that have acquired a brand but need guidance when it comes to their day-to-day operation, there are other investors involved: the pair themselves.
“We realised from the beginning that we had to put our own necks on the line and in any venture we’re doing, we’re investing our own money,” David says. “Whether it’s a brand or investor, any potential company wants to not only see our decades of experience, but also understand just how much skin we have in the game.”
The Camp is a camp site where investors, executives and brands get together, and use it as a platform to develop fast and efficient businesses. – Javier Carrera
After years of commuting across Europe for their jobs, The Camp has allowed them to work in Barcelona, the city they call home with their families. But it’s also a showcase for what the Spanish city has to offer a company looking for a European base.
“Barcelona has everything you could wish for to attract talent and business, but the costs are much less when compared to any other key city in Europe or around the world,” Javier says. “For us, that was also a tipping point.”
Both agree that they couldn’t be in a better place right now. “We are very lucky to be in an industry that creates excitement,” David says, adding that it’s one he predicts will be boosted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The business model of the past 30 years is not the business model that consumers are demanding for the next 30. Combined, this creates a unique opportunity for us.”
Proudly supported by: