Hawkers to introduce franchise model in Mexico to expand in international markets
Hawkers disrupted the eyewear industry in 2013 as a digitally native, youth-oriented designer brand offering stylish sunglasses at affordable prices. Leveraging social media marketing and influencer partnerships, the company achieved tremendous success. According to CEO Pedro Beneyto, this innovative approach and marketing strategy were instrumental in their remarkable achievements. In an interview with FashionNetwork.com
Having previously worked at Suárez Jewelry, Beneyto brought extensive optical industry experience to Hawkers, having served as the head of Alain Afflelou in Spain for 12 years. “The adaptation has been quick and the projects and changes I proposed, almost immediate. In terms of turnover, sales have increased by 12% compared to the previous 12 months (at the end of June 2023) and starting with a positive trend always helps”, said the manager, without detailing specific revenue figures.
The increase in revenue has been complemented by a “cost reduction plan that allowed Hawkers to improve its operational margins without raising prices”, according to the CEO.
With this solid financial foundation, the eyewear company is now focused on one of its main challenges for the next decade: international expansion. “In September we will open our first franchised optical store in Mexico. It will be the first of its kind globally. We have around 70 shops in Spain and Portugal and our idea is to continue growing in retail inside and outside the Iberia peninsula, but the expansion abroad will come, with few exceptions, from franchised partners”, Beneyto explained. The company plans to open around 35 new locations between this year and 2024.
The first Hawkers store in Mexico will incorporate the latest retail concept developed by the brand, already implemented in their Ruzafa store in Valencia and the Xanadú shopping center in Madrid. New store openings will adopt this concept, while existing stores will be gradually updated over the next 12 to 24 months.
Mexico holds strategic significance for Hawkers. “It is our second-largest market and it is projected to surpass Spain in the near future,” said the CEO. In order to strengthen its presence in the country, where it already has a subsidiary, offices and logistics facilities, the company will soon appoint a country manager responsible for centralized management. Previously, operations in the country were directly overseen by the Spanish headquarters.
Although 90% of Hawkers’ sales are generated in Europe, Mexico, and Colombia, their target markets for international development include Germany, Italy (where they already operate a standalone store in Rome), France, and the United Kingdom in the first phase of expansion. Brazil and Argentina are next on the list, followed by long-term plans for the United States.
From growth to multibrand channels
Hawkers remains focused on sunglasses as their strategic core product. “However, this does not impede the development of new business lines that allow us to expand our customer base and revenue streams; the optical sector is a natural extension of our business since it is still eyewear,” said Beneyto.
Hawkers will gradually increase the importance of optical products in their business, with franchising serving as a growth lever. “Prescription glasses cannot be sold exclusively online, and therefore growth has to come through physical stores, so as we have more optical outlets, the weight of this activity will increase,” he said.
Another key element of Hawkers’ strategy is the development of the wholesale channel, which already operates in 30 markets. The company is actively engaging with various distributors to enhance its presence in multibrand retail.
For the time being, the online channel is still the company’s main source of income, accounting for 70% of their business compared to 30% for physical stores. “It has evolved a lot since Hawkers was born, competition has increased, yes, but so have our domestic and international customers. The digital environment is going to help us a lot because we have a customer base that is very loyal in the purchase of sunglasses and that will help us to promote new lines of business,” added Beneyto.
With offices in Spain, Lisbon, Mexico City, and Bogotá, as well as six logistics warehouses in Spain, Mexico, Colombia, the United States, Hong Kong, and Australia, Hawkers has truly become a global brand. It is also planning to open a new logistics warehouse in Holland to serve Germany, Benelux and the United Kingdom. The company also includes other eyewear brands like Northweek, Miss Hamptons, Wolfnoir, and Battleboro.
When it comes to the brand ecosystem, Beneyto emphasized that “expansion will come from giving importance and weight to the Hawkers brand, on which we are focusing the bulk of our branding investment. For the time being, we are going to focus on the brand with the greatest notoriety to make it the basis for future growth, without ruling out the possibility of promoting other brands in the future to develop in specific market niches that interest us.”
Looking back on a decade of growth and transformation, as Hawkers evolved from a digital-native brand to a company with its own stores, franchises, and a presence in wholesale, the CEO highlighted the main challenges for the next 10 years: “To continue to maintain the brand’s original image while adapting to industry trends and pursuing our defined growth strategies, including international expansion,” concluded Beneyto.