Interview with Mr Mark Bezner

Face2Face
Mr Mark Bezner
Mr Mark Bezner
Owner and CEO
OLYMP Bezner GmbH & Co. KG
OLYMP Bezner GmbH & Co. KG

Established in 1951 by Mr Eugen Bezner, OLYMP Bezner GmbH & Co. KG is an owner operated family enterprise catering to the domain of male fashion wear market. Headquartered in Bietigheim, Germany, as the shirt brand with the most dynamic development throughout Europe in recent years, OLYMP has been setting international standards in the world of fashion since its inception. Characterizing quality in fabrics, workmanship, outstanding attributes in wear and care, as well as an excellent price-performance ratio and a convincing fashion statement, OLYMP Shirts, Ties, and Casuals are enjoying increasing popularity and market presence in over 40 countries. Backed by the workforce of 3387 employees, the company has been able to treble its turnover even amidst dropping economy and declining sales. OLYMP is by now not only a market leader in Germany, but is going an increasingly strong globally active company. Born 11 March 1963, Mr Mark Bezner, Owner & CEO of OLYMP, studied economic sciences (marketing/finance) at the Business School/University of California, Los Angeles/USA, graduating with 'magna cum laude' honours in 1987. Mr Bezner got his career start with Procter & Gamble (Bad Schwalbach) as a Product Manager in 1988. He joined OLYMP as Head of Marketing and Sales, in 1990 and was appointed Managing Partner of OLYMP in 1995. In 1996 introduced 'OLYMP Luxor', the non-iron and wrinkle-free shirt line, and in 2000-2002, he did Owner/President Management Program (OPM) from Harvard Business School in Boston/USA. Mr Bezner was titled as Entrepreneur of the Year (runner-up for 2003, and Finalist for 2005 & 2006 in Industry category) at Ernst & Young AG, Stuttgart/Frankfurt. He was also named Manager of the Year (2003, 2006 and 2007) by markt intern, Düsseldorf. In 2004, he received Member of the Regional and Full Council of the Stuttgart CCI (ongoing) Forum Award of the TextilWirtschaft journal published by the Deutscher Fachverlag/Frankfurt. In a colloquy with Face2Face team, Mr Mark Bezner narrates his observation on the changeovers that male fashion industry has undergone as well as trends and consumers behaviours in the backdrop of plummeting economy.

Your company has witnessed 50 years in the industry. How would you like to narrate the commute your company has traversed on the tapestry of time?

Since the company was formed in 1951, much has indeed changed. However, through it all, the company has remained true to its original philosophy of producing outstanding quality clothing with special wear and care advantages at an extremely fair price. Today we make it possible for our partners in specialist shops to achieve pleasing sales figures and a progressively increasing turnover with our market-based products. Over 90 per cent of the fashion collections, meanwhile, are manufactured from our own designs using exclusively woven fabrics. In particular, the “OLYMP Luxor” non-iron and wrinkle-free business shirts line, made from 100 per cent cotton, classically cut or slim line, is enjoying rising popularity. Having said that, you will also find easy-care casual and polo shirts in our product portfolio. The four extensive annual collections are complemented by high-quality ties made of pure silk, which also offer enhanced protection from dirt and stains, having been improved using Nano Technology. One entirely new product that has recently been rolled out is the business shirt “OLYMP Level Five – body fit” with natural Comfort Stretch for the super-slim, young and fashion-conscious male. But it is not only the product range that has been adapted to the changing demands of the market over the decades; OLYMP is also known for its innovative action when it comes to efficient floor management, a successful marketing concept or the complex field of targeted merchandising. Overall, in what is a difficult market environment characterised by a slump in consumer spending, these measures have resulted in the total sales for the company tripling since the mid-1990s to just short of 110 million euros in 2008.

Olymp, thus has a vast period of existence in fashion industry; as progeny of this family business, what all would you like to mention as observed ‘changeovers’ during these years in male fashion industry?

The order pattern of the trade has changed drastically. For a start, the order rhythms have increased originally from two to currently four collections. Moreover, the last-minute supply of goods seen today, where businesses will order when necessary and which is causing a shift in risk to the disadvantage of the industry, is gaining in importance all the time. For this reason, we are offering the trade a huge never-out-of-stock (NOS) programme, for which we constantly keep more than 400,000 standard articles and classic basic items in stock, ready for delivery, which we can actually ship on the same day if ordered by 1 p.m. As things now stand, we already achieve over 50 per cent of our sales through this prompt business service.

Published on: 06/04/2009

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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