Sam Perkins describes himself as being “at my best in highly ambitious, entrepreneurial and collaborative organisations with a strong emphasis on data and technology”.
On paper at least, Perkins has landed in the right place as chief executive of fast-growing online fashion brand In The Style (ITS).
In January, the former Very Group executive will take over the reins from founder and current ITS boss Adam Frisby, who in turn moves into the newly created role of chief brand officer for the social media savvy business whose model is based on influencer collaborations.
Perkins joins a brand that most experts agree has significant long-term growth potential after an IPO earlier this year valued the business at around £105m. Sales and customer numbers have surged of late, helped by the shift to online during the pandemic, while a partnership with Asda will see ITS clothes sold in 100 stores by the first quarter of 2022.
For all his entrepreneurial instincts, ITS marks the first time Perkins has worked for a genuinely fledgling business, albeit one with almost half a million customers. His early career was spent with major FMCG brands Nestle and PepsiCo before he made the switch to retail as a confectionery buyer for Tesco.
Perkins spent eight years working for the country’s biggest grocer, latterly as commercial director for its One Stop chain of convenience stores. He left to join The Very Group in 2015 as group merchandising director before a reshuffle of the product team in early 2018 saw him promoted to group product director with a seat on the executive board.
At the time, interim group chief executive Derek Harding described Perkins as “an inspirational and innovative leader, who’s already made a big difference at Shop Direct”.
Perkins was subsequently fast-tracked to the role of retail managing director where he helped guide the business through the next phase of its digital transformation which included innovation in dynamic pricing and stockless technology.
Tipped as a future CEO, Perkins’s departure was announced at the same time as ex-Fenwick boss Robbie Feather was named The Very Group’s new retail managing director (and de-facto second-in-command to chief executive Henry Birch) in September.
His new role at ITS represents a step down with regards the size of the business, but Perkins has declared himself attracted by the opportunity to lead the retailer’s growth journey.
Under Frisby’s leadership, ITS has carved out an effective niche with its celebrity-led designs and ethos of inclusivity and body positivity. More recently it has pursued a successful app-first based strategy and its current focus is on scaling the business through investment in technology – including hiring former Missguided and Asos executive John Allen as a new chief technology and digital officer. International expansion is also said to be a priority.
Perkins rose through The Very Group ranks quickly under Henry Birch who valued his strategic focus, commercial know-how and leadership skills.
The relationship between Perkins and Frisby will be key to his success in his new role. Working with a founder is never straightforward and this marks the first time Frisby has relinquished strategic control of the business.
If the pair do manage to form an effective alliance, we’re set for another exciting period in the ITS growth journey.