Otter Swims Across the Pond

Otter has crossed the Atlantic.

The men’s fashion company, which was founded in 2006, now has operations in the U.K. It has launched a new Website, otterfashion.co.uk, and local phone line which are now taking orders from U.K. customers. Otter also plans to bring its catalog to the U.K. later this year.

Atlanta-based Otter, which is owned by retail group Red Diamond Worldwide Ltd., sells men’s underwear, T-shirts and athletic wear emblazoned with unique graphics. Recently, the retail/wholesale company expanded its offerings to include jewelry and grooming products designed for men.

Joshua Harrell, founder/CEO of Otter, says about 15% of the company’s business is already coming from the U.K., and it’s seeing growth in this market, “which is why it made sense to have a distribution and sales in there.”

“Having distribution in the U.K. will also help us gain more British and European wholesale customers,” he says, adding that the company has opened a 2,200 sq.-ft. distribution center/headquarters in Romford (Essex) just outside of London.

Harrell, who designs many of the products himself, says the new Website and local phone line will make it easier for U.K. customers to place orders — plus having distribution in the U.K. will speed delivery time and help customers save on shipping costs.

Merchandise featured on the two Websites will be more or less the same, however, prices on the U.K. site will be in local currency and will reflect the added shipping costs and value added tax.

“All pricing is in sterling and not converted back over to the U.S. dollar, which is common in U.S. sites serving the U.K.,” Harrell says. “Sizing and the product are the same, but availability may be different. New product will always hit The States first until we begin manufacturing in the U.K. and Europe, which is a long-term goal of ours.”

He admits that the company has had to do a lot of “tweaking” of the language used on the U.K. Website since its launch.

“Everyday we are learning the subtle differences in the language and trying to ensure that the site is speaking proper English to our British customers,” he says. “Fortunately our clients have been very understanding and e-mail us right away when something is so wrong.”

For instance, he didn’t know that the British spell “jewellery” differently.

Otter’s catalog drops four times a year to 860,000 around the world. The average price point is $15 and the average order size is around $56.

The U.K. version of the catalog will be the same as the U.S. version — except pricing will be in local currency and the language will be slightly different. The first U.K. catalog will be printed in the U.S. and will drop in September, “however our goal is to have our U.K. operation be as self-contained within the country as possible, so we will be looking for vendors there to fulfill our marketing/printing needs,” Harrell says.

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