British Shirt Cataloger Invades Via Newspaper

A little more than two years ago, Charles Tyrwhitt, a London-based manufacturer/marketer of high-end men’s shirts, entered the U.S. market with a catalog/Internet program. This fall, with U.S. catalog circulation expected to reach 3.5 million by year’s end, Tyrwhitt imported a marketing strategy that has worked for it back in the U.K.: newspaper inserts.

The $50 million company inserted 16-page catalogs into 900,000 copies of the Oct. 6 issue of The New York Times. Subscribers and newsstand buyers in parts of the New York area received the catalog with their Sunday newspaper. Results were not available at press time, but if the program is a success, the company will expand into markets such as Boston and Washington, says Tyrwhitt co-owner/managing director Peter Higgins.

Tyrwhitt, which inserts catalogs in several U.K. newspapers, also hopes to replicate on this side of the Atlantic its U.K. arrangement with Financial Times: In exchange for inserting its catalog in the paper, Tyrwhitt will pay for free one-month subscriptions to readers.

Tyrwhitt’s U.S. sales have grown from $2.5 million in 2000 to $5 million last year and a projected $10 million this year. “We’ve built up a U.S. customer file of 40,000 over two years,” Higgins says. Although Tyrwhitt is focusing primarily on mail order, it plans to open a store in New York by the end of the year, “which will give us credibility and customers a sense of security that we’re an American player,” Higgins says.

Justin Metcalf, president of marketing firm Sterling Marketing and Tyrwhitt’s U.S.-based president, won’t reveal how much the company paid for the The New York Times insert. “It’s not cheap, and it’s risky,” he says. “But we’ve been successful with it in the U.K. and Germany.”

While Metcalf believes there is enough demand to make Tyrwhitt a successful niche catalog in the U.S., he feels that the company is “never going to be huge here. Our challenge is to develop the niche in a profitable and speedy way.”

Finding useful lists is part of the problem, Metcalf says, because there aren’t as many men’s lists compared with the women’s apparel market. “The mid- and upper-range U.S. apparel catalog market is dominated by women buyers. We do have a women’s business that accounts for about 10% of sales that we’ll look to see if we can do something with, but that’s a long way off.”

Christmas Catalog Cutoff Dates

How long can you put off ordering holiday gifts? If you’re ordering from Big Island Candies, you’d better have called the cataloger by Dec. 6 to guarantee Christmas delivery. But if you’re shopping with educational gifts mailer Discovery Channel Store or food gifts marketer Red Cooper, you can wait until 1 p.m. on Dec. 23 — if you spring for expedited delivery, that is.

Allen Brothers (food) 11am EST Dec. 20
Big Island Candies (food) Dec. 6
Discovery Channel Store (gifts) 1pm EST Dec. 17 (standard); 1pm EST Dec. 23 (expedited)
Hanna Andersson (kids’ apparel) Dec. 20 (standard); 3pm EST Dec. 22 (expedited)
Figi’s (food) 1pm EST Dec. 19
Jackson & Perkins (plants) Dec. 17 (standard); Dec. 22 (expedited)
Lands’ End (apparel) Dec. 20 (standard); Dec. 22 (expedited)
Lilly’s Kids (kids’ gifts) Dec. 15 (standard); Dec. 19 (expedited)
Plow & Hearth (home goods) Dec.16 (standard); Dec. 21 (expedited)
Pottery Barn Bed + Bath (linens) 3pm EST Dec. 19 (standard); noon EST Dec. 23 (expedited)
Red Cooper (food) Dec. 17 (standard); 1pm EST Dec. 23 (expedited)
Things You Never Knew Existed (gifts) Dec. 12 (standard); 10am EST Dec. 23 (expedited)
Williams-Sonoma (kitchenware) Dec. 19 (standard); noon EST Dec. 23 (expedited)
Wine Country Gift Baskets (food) Dec. 16 (standard); 2:45pm EST Dec. 20 (expedited)

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