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Q3 2017

New look for Brand ID

Having grown their brand portfolio to an impressive stable, Brand ID has restructured the company to flatten management layers that enables the re-energized company to provide faster and more efficient service to their customers, explains CEO Wayne Bebb


After six years of acquiring brands, the Brand ID distributorship has undertaken an extensive overhaul of all their brands, business units and sales reporting structures.

“We wanted to change the way our customers deal with our big, multi-branded business,” explains CEO Wayne Bebb (right). “We asked ourselves: how do we make it easier for our customers to work with Brand ID?

They found that there were some functions that were duplicated and in order to become leaner and quicker, they centralised these functions.

“The other objective was to become more pro-active, efficient and excellent in what we do.” So, they changed the structures to do away with some management levels. Bebb also wanted a closer role in dealing with customers.

Therefore, instead of the sales forces in the former divisions like Performance Brands, Dunslaz, Love SA etc. reporting to their respective Brand Presidents, the brands are now housed in functional units, managed by a dozen national sales managers, reporting directly to Bebb.

“Everything can now happen a hundred times quicker,” he says. They can also take a more holistic approach to servicing customers, by offering complimentary products from other brands within the company. “For example, in the bike unit we have the Craft brand, but we can now ask ourselves, what else can we sell to the customers in that unit?”

Another big driver was looking at ways to become more efficient. Webb believes that because their retail customers now have direct access to himself, decision making has become much easier. “I can now immerse myself in the part of the business that has a core influence on success: sustainable relations and generation of sales.”

Sales teams have been grouped into functional units. For example:
  • Court Sport/Arena: sales of Dunlop, Slazenger, Karakal, Ashaway, Swingball and Karrimor — brands formerly grouped under the Dunslaz business unit — will now jointly be managed by national sales managers Eugene Brown and Jon Haughton in this functional unit. Brown will continue to be based in Johannesburg where he will use his years of experience of these brands to service customers, while Haughton will act as liaison between centralised planning and procurement from Cape Town;
  • Pool: Deidre Scodeller will continue to manage Speedo sales;
The former Performance Brands division have been divided into the following business units:
  • Field Sport: Du Toit Botes will manage Canterbury and Opro (mouth guards) as national sales manager.
  • Botes will also be the national sales manager for Outdoor: Columbia.

“These were the two focal areas of his business silo and are also where his strengths lie,” says Bebb, who is excited by the prospect of the new Canterbury training range that will arrive for summer. “It is different to everything currently in the market — in terms of colour, design and fabrication.”

  • Bike: Craft cycling gear sales will be steered by Steyn du Plessis, a new appointee with strong experience of the very specialised cycling retail industry, among others with ASG;
  • MSM: Paul Copson will continue to be in charge of sales of Mizuno (footwear), Skins (compression) and Mistral (SUP). Mizuno has enjoyed calculated, sustainable growth in specialised running outlets — a market that is not easy to penetrate, says Bebb. Skins is very much entrenched in the rugby market, “where it is doing very well.”

Objective feedback

In addition to her function as national sales manager Specialist (for brands like Love SA and Disney Sports) Blanche Veerapen will work closely with Bebb to focus on customer service levels, engage with customers about in-store merchandising and provide objective and accurate data for sales teams.

“Her role is basically to ensure that our customers are happy,” says Bebb. “She runs our partner programme — she independently checks that our partners are being looked after. Her other fundamental role is consumer engagement: how do we look in the store? Her role is to give me an objective view of how we are doing in the market.” As he points out: they can only fix mistakes if they know which mistakes are made.

She is also responsible for the Love SA and Disney brands in the Specialist unit. Disney is a new brand for them, and will be aimed at reaching kids through the mass market and getting them active. Bebb believes that products like tents, roller blades, skateboard, cycles and accessories, branded with Disney characters will entice youngsters to get outside and enjoy healthy activities, instead of sitting in front of the TV or computer games.

Pierre Thackwray (Corporate), former Columbia brand manager Letha Viljoen (Own Retail), Carika van Blerk (Direct to Consumer for all teamwear) and Elinor Johannes (Telesales) are national sales managers that have been appointed in new business units. In addition, Evert Ferreira, is responsible for looking after their sponsored athletes and teams.

Africa is the responsibility of Kyle Hartmann, who has previous experience of growing a brand further north on the continent, has “established a nice footprint in Africa,” says Bebb. “Our approach is to achieve slow and steady and ethical sustainable growth.”

Nigeria is currently their biggest African market, with brands like Columbia and Mizuno making the most inroads. “It is important to maintain integrity and ensure our products are displayed in the right places,” he continues — adding that some of the African retail spaces compete very favourably with local retailers.

“Other centralised functions such as Procurement, Sourcing and Development, Planning and Financial Administration are consolidated, enhanced and clarified,” he continues. “I am confident that these changes will ensure we are able to be nimble and proactive and set the benchmark for multi-brand distribution businesses in South Africa.”

During the restructuring process they also looked at the areas where they get the most return — and where their main focus should be.

One conclusion was that Brand ID’s strength is in sporting goods and technical products, not mens formal wear. They therefore decided to divest from these menswear brands like Jonty’s, Brooksfield, Danie’s etc. “There are other companies out there that are more focused on fashion, it is not really our strength,” says Bebb.

Likewise, small brands like Nathan and Sklz were dropped because they were no longer a good fit for their “authentic technical brand portfolio.”

The restructuring has resulted in a stronger team with a new sense of unity and purpose, he believes. “We changed the landscape and had a new look at our vision, mission, values, purpose and fundamentally rejuvenated the company — why we exist and why we are here, what values we bring as a brand. “

These values, vision and mission are prominently on display in the reception area — to inform visitors and remind staff members what Brand ID is about.

“As a business we owe a deep commitment to unlocking the most amount of value from our people,” says Bebb. “It was exciting for us to restructure and re-energize, because what we have built is so much stronger.”

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