Is seven a lucky number? It is for Paul Ropp, who took just seven years to turn Phuket into the crown jewel of his retail network. And now, as he opened his fifth and most successful outlet on the island, he shares with us his insight on Phuket and its evolution.
Compared to the 45 years Paul Ropp brand has been in Asia, seven years in Phuket doesn’t seem that long. But when the place is right, a lot can be achieved in a short time.
“In India, we started 45 years ago, in Thailand about seven years ago, and in that time it has amounted to 40% of our sales. We opened five free-standing locations in Phuket, most recently one across from Bake, at the entrance of Laguna. And it has become our biggest retail success so far,” Paul tells me over a cup of coffee in the minimalistic interiors of the aforementioned bakery. He is dressed in one of his own, multicoloured outfits, which makes him stand out from the crowd - as it would with anyone daring enough to wear it.
And apparently, more and more people do, with Paul Ropp’s retail sales growing by as much as 30% in the last year alone. And that’s despite, or maybe due to the clientele in Phuket completely changing over the years.
“In the old days we had adventurers here, now we have real estate brokers. The times have changed and we are dancing to the rhythm of the market. And it seems that the direction we’ve taken is working, “he says.
This knack for adjusting to change and turning it to his advantage has not only helped Paul Ropp survive on Phuket volatile market, it helped him thrive. Even if some of the changes did take him off-guard. “Phuket, to my surprise, turned into a development for our Russian and Chinese clientele with indigenous Thais following closely behind. Thai taste in our collections has developed from maybe 3% to maybe 28% of all our sales, over the last seven years,” he explains.
“More and more we see Phuket as a launching pad for our newest presentations,” he adds.
Those include the recently completed collection for the King of Morocco as well as an Islamic collection Paul Ropp is currently working on. “Being a New York Jew, I treat this as an opening of my reality. I hope to establish colour and detail into what is a more formal type of dress conforming to Islamic requirements,” he tells me.
And while he continues to experiment on the design side, the business aspect of the brand is no less dynamic. Proof? How about a joint venture with King Power, which should give Paul Ropp access to airport duty-free areas and King Power’s duty-free shopping centres.
But whether it’s an airport in Bali or a boutique in Phuket, Paul Ropp cultivates the same global approach to his clients. “People who own villas in Phuket, own villas in Bali too; it’s the same type of traveller. So our approach to marketing is global, the brand is sensual, not sexual.”
“We make clothes for people who prefer to be naked,” he concludes.
For more information, visit paulropp.com
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