Lee Cooper is in talks with a department store in the US to license its denim products, which would make it one of the few European jeans makers to break into the territory, which is dominated by American brands such as Levi’s and Wrangler.
The Lee Cooper brand was founded in London more than 100 years ago but moved the majority of its operations to France in the 1990s – its main market at the time – when it became a wholesale and licensing business. The company relocated its entire operation back to the UK this year as a purely licensing business.
Bob Taylor, global trade marketing manager, says the brand became diluted in the two decades it was based in France.
He says: “Our brand became devalued because we had not focused on being British. The best bit about our Britishness is saying that ’we are not Americans, we are not a cowboy brand’, we are the original European jeans wear brand.”
The brand is popular in the Gulf States, China and India, where the company is rolling out the majority of its marketing campaigns to focus on Lee Cooper’s “Britishness” and its affiliations to rock bands, such as the Rolling Stones.
Taylor says, in the UK, the company will “hold back” on marketing, due to a deal with Sports Direct that sells Lee Cooper products at discount prices. He says that the companies are in talks for Lee Cooper to develop a specialist area in its shops for denim, which will help elevate the brand’s premium status in the UK.
Lee Cooper will begin marketing activity in the UK again in 2012, focusing its messaging around the London Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The company is also set to relaunch its global website in the coming months.
Design agency 999 has been involved with the creative roll out of the new British-focused campaigns.