An Andy Long Interview – Celebrating 2019 and Looking Forward to 2020

2019 was a year of transformation and growth at Pentland Brands and in 2020 our mission continues to be making our brands matter to more people. We spoke to Andy Long, CEO at Pentland Brands, about his ambitions to make a positive impact on consumers and the planet, in a year that is already promising rapid and uncertain changes.

2019 review

2019 was a big year for Pentland Brands in terms of innovation, brand collaborations and sponsorships. What do you see as the biggest business achievements?

2019 has definitely been a big year for us. I think our biggest achievement has to be that we’ve achieved 8% overall growth in sales. We’ve also been able to increase the marketing investment behind our brands – which we’ve done through a combination of growth, controlling our costs and implementing transformative changes in our ways of working.

What are your personal highlights from 2019?

Top of the list for me is that I was directly involved in the opening of our newly extended China office, where we’re enjoying incredibly fast growth in a really exciting market. It was also fantastic to attend the Rugby World Cup in Japan, where Canterbury was so well represented.

Other exciting highlights include the Berghaus Dean Street collection and the brilliant response it received. Pretty much everything Kickers has done this year, including some amazing collaborations. The momentum we’re continuing to see on ellesse and the impact of seeing consumers wearing ellesse almost anywhere I go in the world. Then there are the brands we’ve added to the portfolio more recently, SeaVees and Endura, which have both been growing at double digit rates in the last year.

2020: the year ahead

What are the big priorities for Pentland Brands in 2020?

We’re continuing to focus on how we can be a ‘positive’ business in the way we operate – thinking about the impact we have on everybody that our business touches and indeed the planet itself.

Another big priority is driving brand demand by getting consumers to engage in our brands and offerings. It’s about understanding why our products are special so, whether we’re selling them online or offline, we’re always talking about them in a compelling way.  Finally, we need to be set up to deliver all of that globally.

What do you see as the biggest challenges ahead in 2020?

Inevitably, we’re still facing political and economic uncertainty all around the world.  Whether that’s Europe’s relationship with the UK or the UK’s relationship with Europe, issues in Asia, including Hong Kong where we have a big team, or the global trade issues between the US and China – we’ll need to make sure we’re agile enough to respond to the inevitable changes ahead.

Then of course, there are shifting consumer expectations. What becomes especially important here is understanding consumers’ values and how they affect their shopping habits, as well as our own impact on society and the planet.

What are the biggest opportunities in 2020?  

I think the biggest opportunity for us is capitalising on the momentum that we’ve already created. We’ve gone through a big shift in the way that we’re working and that’s now really proving to be successful. Hopefully having grown strongly in 2019, we can continue that growth going into 2020.

Who will be the winners and who will be the losers in 2020?

What’s key will be the people that are honest and adaptable – those that can recognise the issues within their business and take action to resolve them quickly will be the winners. We’ve seen that time and time again; those that have been losing are the ones that haven’t confronted issues until far too late.

What are your ambitions for Pentland Brands as an employer?

Ultimately, the ambition is to be successful through a diversity of ideas and talent. To achieve that, we’ve got to embrace true diversity and inclusion in the way we operate. We’ve got to make sure that our ways of working are moving with the times and that we’re thinking about how people interact with their jobs in a different way from the past and similarly that we think about career development in a modern context.

It’s important that anybody working at Pentland Brands is able to understand how they’re learning, how they’re developing, and how that will help them on their career path.

At the end of 2020, what will success look like for Pentland Brands?

That’s a hard question because a year is a long time and there is so much we need to achieve. But I hope that what we will be able to do is point to progress against all of our big strategic priorities. So that we can see the business growing, be proud of the way that we’re growing and be proud of the progress we’re making as a team.

Quick responses

What are you most proud of in 2019?


What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome in 2019?

Making the right choices in the context of some turbulent trading environments.

In four words, describe the Pentland Brand culture?

Caring, exciting, fun, open.

What’s exciting you most about 2020?

Knowing that we have yet to reach our full potential having changed a lot about how we operate — I believe 2020 will see us hitting full pace.

Why should someone want to work for Pentland Brands?

Great brands. Great team to be part of. Stable and supportive ownership.

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