Inspirational Independents: Lanigan & Hulme, Manchester

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Lanigan & Hulme’s mix of historic menswear brands was an instant hit when the boutique opened in Manchester in 2017. Since then, womenswear and a locally made own label have been added, to create a formula ready to develop.

“The idea was to showcase British and Irish brands that weren’t represented in Manchester,” says co-founder Phil Lanigan. “The target was an image-conscious 30-60 year old clientele who appreciate good quality. They are happy to pay premium prices, but not luxury. And they want their clothes to fit well. turns out that we also attract men in their twenties.

Lanigan & Hulme is ready for deployment. However, on the day Drapers passes, Lanigan has just learned that a deal for a second store in Knutsford, Cheshire, has fallen through. It’s frustrating, as it’s eager to expand from the original 850 square foot unit at the Royal Exchange in the heart of Manchester.

“We are confident that our concept will work in good neighboring market towns like Knutsford, Alderley Edge [Cheshire] and Hale [Greater Manchester]. We can make it an exclusively feminine boutique to give it its own identity. We can get to [open] one a year for the next few years,” reveals the 46-year-old retail veteran.

‘We’ refers to Neil Hulme – his life partner of 18 years and business partner, whose CV includes stints in West End theatres, working at an art gallery and a jeweler and most recently managing the venue. exhibition of sofa manufacturer Arlo & Jacob. Lanigan, meanwhile, brings 17 years of work in frontline management roles for chains as varied as Hackett, Reiss, RM Williams, Superdry, Crombie, Guess, Aldo, Dune and Oasis.

Lanigan says he had become disillusioned with what he saw as a drop in quality, even by so-called high-end operators: “Where some used to manufacture in the UK, they have started manufacturing in China. and the standards, in my opinion, have dropped. “

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He and Hulme had a shared vision to launch a branded menswear concept, with room to grow.

“There are only two other stores in [Manchester] downtown by making quality menswear, but I knew from talking to clients at places like Reiss and Hackett that I knew our vision had potential. »

Financial support

An inheritance from Hulme’s mother and an investment (since repaid) from backer Fashion Angel enabled the long-held ambition to come to life in Princes Exchange Arcade – an upscale enclave between Cross Street and Exchange Street.

The original mix of menswear brands included Hackett, Crombie, John Smedley, Peregrine – “I like it because it’s made in Manchester” – Magee, Wax London, Dents, Sunspel and Johnstons of Elgin, with Barkers, Tricker’s, RM Williams and Grenson supplying the shoes.

“Nearly all of them had no stockist in Manchester,” says Lanigan.

Most are still part of the offering, but two big changes were the addition of own-label menswear in 2018 and branded and own-label womenswear in 2019.

The L&H label was in the business plan from the start, says Lanigan: “Manchester was Cottonopolis at 19and century – a center for the British and world textile industry. I wanted to sell UK made products – ideally those made in Manchester – because I knew there was a demand for them.

“Coincidentally, Andy Ogden, Managing Director and Managing Director of English Fine Cottons [which was established in 2015 to restore cotton spinning to Greater Manchester], fell into the shop. We chatted and as of spring 2018 the company has been making most of our own brand clothing, although Johnstons of Elgin makes our knitwear.

Lanigan worked closely with English Fine Cotton’s Head of Development, Rebecca Sampson, to achieve her personal obsession: a perfect fit on basic garments such as t-shirts, hoodies and sweatshirts.

In the spring of 2021 Lanigan collaborated with her local tailor to design and manufacture her own brand chinos and shorts. Like all of L&H’s own-label products, these are simply well-made, well-fitting basics with no external branding.

“I like nice, clean clothes without ugly logos,” he says firmly.

A basic L&H t-shirt sells for £49. A slightly heavier version costs £65 for short sleeves and £70 for long ones. A fine merino sweater costs £135 with a zip neck option at £145. Chinos cost £130 and shorts £95. Sizes range from XS to XXL.

Since reopening the store after the last lockdown in April 2021, L&H has become its top-selling brand, accounting for 48% of sales. Lanigan expects this to grow as he adds more styles.

The addition of women

Womenswear wasn’t part of the pair’s initial vision, but demand from customer partners prompted them to try on some Harris Tweed jackets from Yorkshire-based manufacturer Bucktrout in the fall of 2019.

“I had no experience in women’s fashion, but, with my sewing background from Reiss and Hackett, I knew the fit. What our customers love is that we can quickly have a jacket altered to fit them perfectly.

It costs £25 to have the side seams altered and £45 to shorten the sleeves. Same day service is usually the goal.

After adding womenswear designs from Barker, RM Williams and Dubarry, the company purchased its first dedicated womenswear line from romantic American brand Joie in spring 2020. Its latest addition this season is women’s couture from a Polish designer, Barbara Bechta.

“The clothes are made in Poland and Portugal, but I was delighted when I found out that Barbara had studied fashion design in Manchester,” says Lanigan.

Own label womenswear, with the same attention to fit as for menswear, was also introduced in spring 2020. The simple white t-shirt, designed for women, is a top seller at £49 .

In winter, women’s clothing accounts for 30% of the company’s revenue, while for spring/summer it fluctuates between 18% and 25% due to lower unit prices.

Online foray

Given his experience at a large company, Lanigan felt the business should trade online: “While I really wanted people to come into the store for our personalized service, as a new freelancer we needed a transactional website to look professional. We don’t push it, but online sales are between 10% and 15%.”

Online sales soared during the lockdowns when the couple took to delivering locally themselves along with their bulldogs, Babs and Bertie, who are the store’s mascots. The company used a government grant of £5,000 to upgrade the website.

In April 2021, to cut post-lockdown costs, Hulme took a job as manager of Sofas & Stuff, a furniture store in Manchester, but he will return to Lanigan & Hulme, which Lanigan runs with two part-time staff, ” on time “.

With expansion plans underway, both partners will have plenty to do in the near future. Lanigan is clearly relishing the opportunity: “I started as a Saturday boy at Topman in my home town of Coventry when I was 17. I love retail. I never stop working, but that’s what I want to do so it doesn’t feel like work.

Lanigan & Hulme at a glance

  • Address: 9 Royal Exchange, Manchester, Manchester M2 7EA
  • Approximately 850 square feet of retail space with the same storage space in the basement
  • Owners: Phil Lanigan and Neil Hulme
  • Creation: 2017
  • Brands include Barbara Bechta, Barker, Bucktrout, Dents, Dubarry of Ireland, Hackett, Hiut Denim, Joie Magee, Peregrine, RM Williams, The Cambridge Satchel Company, Tricker’s, Walsh, Wax London, as well as own brands Lanigan & Hulme and L&H.
  • Staff: One full-time (Phil Lanigan), two part-time
  • www.laniganandhulme.com
  • IG @laniganhulme

Phil Lanigan’s Shopping Inspiration

  1. Which brand are you most passionate about right now and why?

It must be our own L&H label because I have full involvement and total autonomy. I am able to produce it at the quality that I have in my head.

  1. Where do you like to go shopping?

When Neil and I visited Porto, we were so impressed with the Portuguese flannel menswear brand’s flagship product. Everything was done so well.

  1. Who in the industry inspires you?

Although I was never drawn to his clothes, I admired Alexander McQueen for his “it has to be done my way” attitude.

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