In today’s industry, how important is it for British brands to have an all-British supply chain? We sit down with founder of luxury men’s fragrance brand Gruhme, Robert Hallmark, to discuss the advantages of keeping the production home soil, as opposed to the mass production which takes place all over the world with other brands.
Robert’s approach to business takes the form of a personal, hands-on approach. Suppliers utilised by the British brand, founded in December 2013, are meticulously chosen by hand. This ensures Robert knows them on a personal level and is well versed in their operations. It’s often cited that “teamwork makes the dream work” and this relationship within a business environment requires a large amount of contact and commitment, something with which Robert comments, “a British base helps enormously.”
Selfless in his work ethic, Robert also believes an advantage offered by having an all British supply chain is that everybody benefits. If Gruhme are successful, then the suppliers are too, something Robert describes as being “a great feeling.” In turn, this creates value across the supply chain. There’s certainly a danger in mass production – it’s the path of least resistance, and often a safe bet. It also often involves going to another mass producer for your supply chain, who also take the safe route.
“The trick is to be innovative and brave and not look too much at others”, Robert cites. Following your own instinct is key, but using the resources of these major suppliers never hurts; it also means you can produce something in your mould, not theirs. The business insight of a major supplier also allows them to see what sells and what does not, a useful trait within the fragrance industry.
Let’s talk margins. The margins involved in mass production are incredibly lean. This means that any tiny changes made within a business certainly add up – a few pounds being saved here and there would be attractive to mass producers. However, it’s important to place emphasis on them delivering quality, nobody benefits from margin alone. But how does a business go about making more margin?
“Make your cost base cheaper”, Robert states. This means using cheaper base products, for example, using water instead of oil, and cheaper ingredients. This often means sadly that the soul of the product, and of the brand, can be lost. Cutting yourself short takes away from both the “feel good” factor, and the essential “wow!” factor. Robert adds, “There is nothing impressive about a great looking product made of no substance inside.”
Several mass-produced fragrances, it’s widely believed (approximately 70%), come from a single German supplier. It’s difficult to take risks and march to your own drum when you conduct that amount of business. “It takes an individual not afraid to lose everything but equally determined to make a miracle happen to create change. Many exciting changes happen when someone is willing to do things their own way,” Robert cites.
Simplicity is key. Robert supports a notion of “adapt, modify and improve” as opposed to starting from scratch. This ensures that customers are kept familiar within the product – operating in a somewhat uniform fashion, being too radical can sometimes alienate a business, although change and improvement is an essential aspect of running a business.
So, from Robert’s experience, what’s the secret to success?
“People fall in love with brands because of how they present themselves and put the love into their products. Consumers love buying from a place that loves what it does.”
This is why Gruhme has featured alongside British brands Morgan Motors and Triumph motorcycles; both are passionate about their industries, and that attracted them to be associated with the Gruhme business too.
Find out about Gruhme at: