Born in Seville and with a degree in Law and a diploma in Business Studies, Francisco has forged a career in the management and creation of family-owned companies, such as Grupo Azabache, and in various industries, which include healthcare, private clinics, investment funds, business centres and livestock, among others. He is currently the CEO of Piel de Toro.
The link between the Piel de Toro brand and the Spanish culture, specifically the Andalusian culture, is very strong. What is the purpose of this link? What benefits does it have for the brand?
From the start, we wanted to create a brand with soul, one that transcends mere sales. For us, fashion is a way of expressing our personality, tastes and, in short, character, through something tangible, but with the marvellous advantage that it can be adapted for each day and for every situation in our day-to-day routine and our life.
Spain has something that sets it apart from other countries; and this is a set of values, a culture and a passionate philosophy of life. And if you add to this our landscapes, marvellous gastronomy and warm nature, you have a set of elements that bring enjoyment to friends and strangers alike.
And this is precisely our vision of fashion: to experience and enjoy what you are wearing, to find meaning, beyond the material, in each garment.
In this sense, the link with our culture has been one of the main added-value propositions for our customers, who are looking to introduce something new and refreshing to their day-to-day lives and who, as our tagline goes, love the essence of Spain.
Piel de Toro is sold in owned and franchised stores, both in Spain and abroad. Why did you choose this business model?
Delocation and the quest for new markets have their advantages, but also their drawbacks, such as ignorance of the market. Therefore, in our case having a local partner to make up for this major inconvenience was the best way of growing in a controlled manner while minimising risks. Having said that, in markets that we are familiar with, we enter them directly. Moreover, the franchise system serves as a thermometer for gauging interest in our brand. There are many regions that we had not planned on entering in the near future, but where consumer interest has made us reconsider this possibility.
From the start you have been operating in foreign markets. What factors do you take into account when you decide to enter a market?
In our expansion policy there are two cornerstones: firstly, the profile of the franchisee must be very much in line with our brand philosophy and our international business vision and, secondly, the brand must be marketed in locations that are key for future growth in that country.
In this regard, we are very particular about the location of our stores and first conduct a thorough analysis of the market, as well as the culture and way of life of its inhabitants.
What is your opinion on the opening up of new product categories in connection with fashion?
Constant renovation and paying attention to the tastes and aspirations of customers is inherent in the fashion industry. Throughout the years we have expanded our collections and added new products to complete looks and to ensure that our followers can find something for every occasion.
Being open to change, reinventing ourselves and offering new things is an essential part of our job.
How important is the online sales channel to Piel de Toro? What percentage of total brand sales does it account for?
Although we have a strong presence both in the domestic and international markets, there are still many regions where we are not yet present. In such cases, the online channel is an important showcase for our products and for creating awareness of the brand and our products in new markets, and also for showing our customers our new collections outside of the physical store.
Although we only launched our online store a month ago and we do not have access to relevant data on general sales, so far it is proving to be a very positive experience, with online sales increasing 5% per week.
What sort of a presence does the brand have in the social media?
As is the case for any other self-respecting quality brand, social networks are an essential media for Piel de Toro, and not just for showcasing products, news and promotions, but for something much more important: creating a powerful community around the brand. A community that shares and identifies with the values the brand represents, where members can comment, ask questions and express their opinions with total confidence, knowing that, on the other side of the screen, there are professionals who care about what they have to say.
We try to offer Piel de Toro followers something more meaningful than the trite message: “Our articles are the best, buy them”, and we also provide additional content which we believe may be useful or interesting to them, such as culture, tourism, gastronomy, sports, etc. All focused on our land.
And, of course, we see social media as a two-way channel; we aim to have dialogue with our fans, not a monologue.
What are your goals for 2015?
To become a leading international brand. We want people to think of Piel de Toro when they think of Spanish fashion.
To this end, we continue to work hard and steadfastly at locating our stores in the world’s main shopping streets, at adding more industry professionals to our workforce, developing our collections and expanding in such a way that we can cover different markets that are of interest to us.
In addition, we plan to float the company on the stock market by the end of 2015 or early 2016.
*Photos by Beatriz Hidalgo.