With over 30 years in the business, HVEG Fashion is the number one private label player in the fashion sector in the Benelux countries, supplying everything from clothing and underwear, to shoes, spectacles and other accessories. The company serves four distinct customer groups – fashion retailers, online retailers, supermarkets, and discount retailers – and supplies a number of major chains in the Netherlands, Germany and France.
“Every group has specific requirements, explains CEO Mike van Snek. “For fashion retailers, for example, we design and produce complete collections; for supermarkets, key demands are that the products are packaged and must fit the supermarket shelving. Our business managers have to be aware of new market developments, and continually innovate to meet emerging demands.” HVEG Fashion is proud of its huge expertise. “Our forte is that we make collections that suit our clients; we produce the goods and even keep stocks for our customers if required,” adds Mr. van Snek.
The company’s stability is another huge advantage which customers value. “We are financially very strong, so retail partners like to work with us. We are regarded as a one-stop business partner; each of our business units has its own design, merchandising and sales personnel, and collectively they cover the whole product spectrum,” continues Mr. van Snek, who was appointed CEO at the start of 2018.
“What really fascinates me about this sector is that there is so much going on; the challenge is to find your own way forward,” he says. “Our core business is private label, but what we did in the past is not by definition the way we’ll work in the future. We are very proud that HVEG Fashion has no debts, and we are ready to make choices in terms of the way forward.”
One of the choices that HVEG has made is to diversify the business and use its expertise and know-how to create new brands of its own. The company has recently introduced Zense yoga wear and, in Q3 2018, it launched Bamboo Basics, a range of men’s t-shirts and boxer shorts which are sold both in-store and online. Bamboo Basics is booming, and HVEG Fashion is now in the process of acquiring some established brands.
If it feels good, we do it. We treat a new brand like a start-up that can be added to the group, a bit like ‘plug and play’. Mike van SnekCEO
“If it feels good, we do it,” the CEO underlines. “We treat a new brand like a start-up that can be added to the group, a bit like ‘plug and play’. It’s important to find the right group of people to market a brand. New teams get all the support they need.”
Just as with other industries, digitalization is enhancing the fashion sector, and HVEG Fashion is embracing new opportunities to further improve its customer service. While the company offers a number of ‘speed concepts’, including production in Turkey with a time to market of just three to six weeks, in general clients have to predict fashions up to six months in advance.
“We are digitalizing the entire supply chain and shortening the time to market,” notes Mr. van Snek. “By speeding up our processes, we can give clients more time to decide what they want.” This 2019 project will involve close analysis of every process to establish how digitalization can make things faster, and will integrate the whole chain by creating an information-sharing portal. “Our reason for being is to unburden our customers and support their success,” Mr. van Snek emphasizes.
By improving the customer experience, this innovative project is likely to enhance customer loyalty; with great products and a fast supply chain, there will be no reason for clients to look elsewhere. “I tell my staff that you are only as good as your last delivery – we have to exceed expectations every day,” says the CEO.
Not only customers are loyal. HVEG fashion prides itself on its stable team – rare in the fast-moving fashion sector, and no doubt due, at least in part, to the open communication culture at the company. Quarterly staff meetings keep staff up to date with new developments and encourage two-way dialogue between management and staff. “We want to understand the challenges our staff face, and how we can best address them – that is our role as managers,” Mr. van Snek stresses.
HVEG is a somewhat unique company, which continually differentiates itself from the competition. “I think our business unit structure is hugely advantageous,” the CEO sums up. “It covers the whole spectrum, and every client is allocated a design team in each relevant unit. In addition, we only work with factories which offer ethical working conditions, and we actively monitor this. This is very important for consumers and our clients; not all suppliers can guarantee this. All in all, I believe our clients consider us a solid player in the market – a great legacy to take forward.”