GUESS? Inc. was founded in California in 1981 as a small jeans company, but now the fashion retailer has licensees and distributors around the world. Spread across Europe, South America, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, GUESS? collections span many labels from children’s clothes (GUESS? Kids) to a line of upscale women’s clothing and accessories named Marciano. But behind the iconic brand is a high-performing finance team led by Sandeep Reddy, who joined GUESS? in 2010 to strengthen its growth trajectory.
Previously, Reddy held senior financial roles for Mattel in Europe and the United States. He had been with Mattel for thirteen years when he was approached for a potential job at GUESS? leading its European finance team. “I thought it was a very exciting opportunity,” he explains. “GUESS? wasn’t only a global brand, but a brand that was growing fast.”
The company’s long-term potential is what first attracted Reddy, who took on the role of chief financial officer in 2013. “[GUESS?] needed strong processes to manage its rapid development, and I could offer that,” he says. “Besides, I really like the products. Today, I am wearing my GUESS? jeans. My wife loves the brand, too.” GUESS? products are widely recognized in the fashion community, and its advertisements have often featured famous models such as Claudia Schiffer, Laetitia Casta, Kate Upton, and France’s former First Lady Carla Bruni.
The retailer attains a global appeal, and Reddy emphasizes that GUESS? truly is a diverse, multicultural company. “Victor Herrero, our CEO, is from Spain. I am from India. The Marciano brothers, our company founders, were Moroccan immigrants who lived in Marseilles, France, before they moved to Los Angeles,” Reddy says. “Though GUESS? is an iconic brand in the United States, it also has strong European roots. Many people in Europe are surprised to discover that it is based in America.”
“When people learn while working for us, we become a more valuable employer and they become better employees.”
One of Reddy’s biggest achievements at the global lifestyle brand has been focusing on succession planning and talent development within the company. “People are our best assets. To be really productive, organizations shouldn’t rely on just one individual,” he says. “I have focused on identifying top talent that can fill key leadership positions and making sure that they get the encouragement and development they need to create value for our company. When people learn while working for us, we become a more valuable employer and they become better employees. It’s a win-win situation.”
Reddy has also developed rotational programs to ensure that employees master a variety of skills in diverse areas, thus streamlining business processes. “Global collaboration is very important now when multiple platforms are used in different regions,” he says. “We sell our products in more than ninety countries through both domestic and international wholesale distribution channels, so teamwork at a global scale is essential.”
The company’s global outreach has made the omnichannel model one of its main strategic initiatives. Omnichannel is an approach to sales that offers an integrated shopping experience, whether the customer is shopping in a brick-and-mortar store, from a desktop computer, or using a tablet or a smartphone.
“In the retail world, if you go back five or six years ago, the shopping experience was quite different from the way it is now,” Reddy says. “You went to a store, saw the merchandise, and bought what they had in stock. Today, people are connected to the Internet all the time and can shop online in multiple venues.”
GUESS? currently strives to achieve a symbiotic relationship between its brick-and-mortar sales and online sales so customers have access to its products anytime, anywhere. “For example, if a client comes to the store looking for an item that isn’t available there, a clerk can order it online and have it shipped to the client’s chosen location,” Reddy explains.
Reddy believes that the omnichannel approach will play a key role in growing the company’s total revenue. “Our strongest areas for e-commerce expansion are now the US and Canada,” he says. “For the fourth quarter that ended January 30, GUESS? e-commerce accounted for roughly 9 percent of sales in the United States and Canada compared to roughly 8 percent the previous year. Over time we will increase our Internet presence in Europe and Asia, as well.”
Herrero has a defined strategic plan to keep GUESS? on track for continuous success, according to Reddy, who adds that it includes elevating the quality of sales and merchandising, building a major business in Asia, and reinforcing a strong culture of purpose and accountability throughout the organization. “The company will also focus on cost reduction and revitalizing its wholesale business,” Reddy says.
As GUESS? continues to merge the American lifestyle and European fashion sense, the company’s commitment to the omnichannel model will extend its reach to consumers worldwide. By uniting the in-store and online shopping experience through aligned, seamless service across multiple platforms, Reddy’s team is helping make the GUESS? customer’s shopping experience as easy and satisfying as possible in the digital age of retail.