A family tradition
Stepping into the role as Henry Bucks’ Managing Director in late September, Tim J Cecil continues a five-generation tradition of keeping the elite menswear company in family hands, as his ancestor Henry Buck opened the first Henry Bucks shop 122 years ago.
Cecil was in town to visit the Adelaide store when The Adelaide Review caught up with the new Managing Director, who took over as MD from his uncle Tim in September. Cecil was, and still is, Merchandise Director, before taking the main job. Cecil says there won’t be a huge change in direction with him at the helm.
“We’re a 122-year-old business and we’ve got a definite image, heritage and style,” Cecil explains. “It’s just making sure that we evolve with the times and stay relevant, and stay important to our current customers while also attracting the new guys to come in and find out what we’re all about.”
Given its traditional image, how does Henry Bucks attract the next generation?
“It’s a good time in the sense that what we do is very, very traditional but that’s sort of in fashion at the moment. It’s funny, we’ve never sold so many bowties as what we are at the moment and brogue shoes and all of those traditional things where there’s a slightly different take on them. It’s fairly traditional but it’s quite popular with the young guys, so it has attracted a new customer and there are certain products where we’re the only ones crazy enough to carry them, so it gives us a quirky uniqueness.”
Aside from the quality suits, polo-inspired casual and sportswear, Henry Bucks carries gentleman’s items you don’t find anywhere else such as sock suspenders, braces, canes and handmade umbrellas from England. It is old school, but the old school preppy look has been in vogue for some time now. This summer, Cecil suggests there are lots of colours coming through in shirts, polos and shorts.
“We’re selling a lot of coloured chinos. The red and the green chinos are really popular at the moment paired up with an unlined blazer. Nice for summer but still fairly smart and classic but with a bit of quirk with a bowtie or bright coloured checked shirt.”
Cecil admits Bucks isn’t cheap, as the store is careful about selling quality items.
“We’re not going to put something with our name on it or stand behind something that we feel is inferior just because of the price. We source some very nice product out of Italy where we retail suits for about $995 and sport jackets from $695-$795 and for a tailored garment out of Italy, with the Italian fabrics and very good quality fabrics, I think the value is very good. We are conscious of this but we don’t want to step on our values to just be offering a cheap suit because for us it’s a bit of a false economy, we don’t really feel like we’re offering value if it’s a throwaway garment.”
Aside from the quality, Cecil says an important factor to Bucks’ success (six stores in three states) is their relationships with their customers.
“At the end of the day the reason people shop with us is because they can have this relationship and it’s a long term thing and men in particular aren’t natural shoppers. They need to feel comfortable where they go and once they do feel comfortable and build a good rapport they tend to be creatures of habit. We’ve got to attract customers – and it’s not the easiest time in retail globally and it’s bad in Australia but it’s a lot worse overseas – so it’s about nurturing that customer.”
What’s in Bucks’ favour is that you can’t get measured and fitted for a tailor-made suit or garment over the internet.
“You really need to have proper advice and fitting and thankfully that can’t be done entirely virtual these days. I’m sure it’s coming; soon you’ll walk into your wardrobe and lasers and cameras will take pictures of you and send you a suit and it will fit perfectly,” Cecil laughs.
Cecil hopes to expand within the next five years.
“We are still, even though we have six stores, a niche business and the Australian market is not infinite; we’re a small population but there are opportunities out there. We’d like to grow but our primary focus is making the most of our current infrastructure because we think there’s potential in that. We’re 122 years old but the best is yet to come.”
193-195 North Terrace