Shock & Oar sets sights on international markets

With the classic, nautical styling and quality fabrics, Shock & Oar will appeal to US and European markets.
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After two years in the Australian marketplace, nautical leisurewear brand ‘Shock & Oar’ is returning to its roots with plans to market the brand to the US and European yachting market.

According to Managing Director Brendon Westerhout the move is a natural progression for a brand that is all about casual sophistication around the water.

'With Shock & Oar we have created a uniquely Australian clothing brand with the look and feel of the nautical lifestyle we enjoy,' said Brendon.

Shock & Oar retails via its flagship store in Fremantle Western Australia, as well as online www.shockandoar.com and through select Australian retailers. The brand’s move into the international yachting market will involve a multipronged strategy of online, wholesale and direct marketing and sales to yachting stakeholders.

This is familiar territory for company owner Brendon Westerhout, whose 30 year career in the marine industry has included more than 20 years on motor yachts. In 2000 Brendon was head-hunted to be the Build Captain for golfer Greg Norman’s motor yacht Aussie Rules (69.5m) – the largest Aluminium yacht built at that time.

Ironically, it was through this project that the seed for ‘Shock & Oar’ was sown. Brendon and build engineer Shane Dingle acquired a reputation for being tenacious in their dealings with the shipyard, gaining them the nickname ‘Shock and Awe’. This was later changed to ‘Shock & Oar’ and the brand concept was born!

In late 2008 Brendon and wife Deirdre started the company in Western Australia, a State with one of the highest rates of boat ownership per capita in the world*.

They began online with a range of high quality polo shirts, t-shirts, cargo shorts and jeans. Confident in their brand and passionate about their products, the pair was soon supplying Shock & Oar merchandise to local boutiques before opening their own store in the port city of Fremantle in mid 2009.

'We were very encouraged by the public response to Shock & Oar and decided to take the business to the next level with our own retail store,' said Brendon. 'A perfect synergy, the store captures the nautical style and culture of the nearby port and picturesque sailing waters, still renowned for the successful 1983 America’s Cup challenging team ‘Australia II’ and 1987 Cup defense. With its timber flooring, rattan ceiling fans and traditional fascia, the store helps us convey a more complete look and feel of the brand which has been likened to Polo Ralph Lauren.'

With the classic, nautical styling and quality fabrics, Shock & Oar will appeal to US and European markets.
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But while everything was falling nicely into place with the business, the world’s financial state was rapidly declining with the Global Financial Crisis unfolding. Could the fledgling business be sustained?

'There is no doubt the GFC had a significant negative impact on local retail, and we were no exception. However I believe we were small and streamlined enough to adjust stock and staffing costs as the marketplace required. We implemented sales strategies to boost turnover and undertook targeted marketing and promotions which delivered good return on investment.'

'The results are encouraging. While most clothing retail has experienced negligible growth in the past year, we have managed to achieve positive sales growth over the past four quarters and a 15% sales increases year over year in December,' said Brendon.

'In the past year we have also achieved momentum in our design, production and distribution channels, allowing more regular drop dates in store and online. New fabric suppliers and manufacturers are key to our fresh, distinctive range. And we are very excited about our 2011 autumn/winter range now in production.'

With a sound business model in place, Shock & Oar is gearing up to take the brand global. Utilising their experience and contacts in yachting, Brendon and Deirdre Westerhout plan to take the brand to yachting meccas such as Florida and The Mediterranean.

'We are a lifestyle brand with a true nautical heritage,' said Brendon. 'Our product and brand are world class with a broad-ranging demographic appeal, attractive price point and efficient and effective customer service delivery.

'We have designed Shock & Oar as an international brand, and accordingly have created a business model that can be taken almost anywhere in the world through franchise and licensing arrangement. We have had customers from every continent in the world keen to take home a piece of Shock & Oar, and are confident it will be an attractive and saleable brand in the yachting industry,' he said.

For more information about Shock & Oar Australia including wholesaling, licensing or franchise enquiries
please contact Brendon Westerhout on +61 414 685 640 or email Brendon@shockandoar.com

More at www.shockandoar.com