In the world of high-end fashion, the marketplace is constantly changing due to the nature of the industry and adjustments retailers must make to cater to the latest trends in consumer demands.
For Patrick James, Purveyor to Gentlemen – an upscale men’s clothing retailer launched in Fresno, Calif., more than 50 years ago – evolving with styles as they come and go has been pertinent, but maintaining its workforce is what has made the company a success for this long, according to founder Patrick James Mon Pere.
“We are very fortunate to have a group of people with us for many, many years,” Mon Pere says. “That alone says a great deal about our firm because we practically have no turnover in stores.
“I have manufacturers’ reps go through the stores, and they tell me they can’t believe I always have the same people,” he adds. “We have tremendous loyalty in our firm to what we’re trying to achieve and how we go about it.”
Mon Pere founded the company in 1962 in Fresno as a private label store. Today, Patrick James Inc. remains family owned and operated as Mon Pere’s sons Mike, Patrick Jr. and Clay play pivotal roles as executives.
Patrick has taken over day-to-day operations as president; Michael serves as vice president while handling all IT needs for the stores; and Clay runs warehouse and monitors sales as treasurer.
Patrick James Inc. has grown into a nationwide company with a catalog business, e-commerce website and 15 stores located throughout California, Arizona, Nevada and Oregon.
The company still offers private label clothing and luxury merchandise, and it has expanded to include lifestyle brands and men’s sportswear collections, as well, including products from England, Scotland, Ireland, Italy, France, Germany, Canada, Japan and the United States.
Mon Pere admits Patrick James may be pricier than the competition due to its luxurious lines, but that’s exactly the point. The company expects the best from itself, and its customers should maintain the same high standards, as well.
“We pride ourselves in the fact that we’re a quality firm and carry better lines,” Mon Pere says. “We offer no apologies for our prices, and people know it.”
Another growing aspect of Patrick James Inc.’s revenue stream is running liquidation sales for retailers going out of business throughout the United States. Although Patrick James Inc. has run these sales for at least 15 years, Mon Pere says that business has grown significantly in the last five years since the recession took its grip.
“No question about it, it has taken off because of the nature of the recession,” Mon Pere says. “Right now, since a number of businesses have gone out, we don’t see as many prospects as we had seen in the last three to five years.”
In order to get cash in hand for business owners with outstanding payables, Patrick James Inc. works on moving a business’s inventory within a 60-day period. The company first takes inventory of every department in a given store and decides how much each department needs in expanded units before reaching out to manufacturers for additional product at deeply discounted prices.
Mon Pere explains that the company also meets with existing personnel to explain how they will be paid to avoid losing them during the last days of the business.
From there, Patrick James Inc. sends two of its own employees to run the sale itself. The company takes over all operations – including financing the last days of the failing business.
“What we really do is tell the retailer, ‘We’re going to try a going-out-of-business sale, you don’t have enough money to enlarge the inventory or properly advertise – what makes you think you’d be successful doing this?’” Mon Pere says.
Before he started Patrick James, Mon Pere served as a bank president for 12 years, which helped him immensely as he set out to start his own business. With the knowledge and experience he has, he now understands the pitfalls retailers often encounter and how they can avoid them.
“I would love to come back in another life and be able to consult retailers,” Mon Pere says. “I can see so vividly what mistakes they have made and the mistakes that can be corrected moving forward. By the time we get to them, rarely can we save them.”
As retailers around the nation seek Patrick James Inc.’s expertise in liquidation, this clothier continues to thrive due to its long-term employees, according to Mon Pere.
He explains that when any company can maintain that knowledge and expertise, only good things can happen, especially when it comes to make changes within the operating model of the business.
“We work with the same people, and we’re moving forward all the time,” Mon Pere says. “Because you have the loyalty of the people around you, their knowledge criterion continues to grow with the business through suggestions, etc., in terms of the firm.
“Our important meetings with managers and key personnel continue to provide us with critical information for the future,” Mon Pere adds. “Our customer loyalty and employee loyalty is our strength and credibility.
“Our ability to run sales for other retailers is unquestioned. In 60 days we have exceeded the annual volume of many retailers. But the talent and unsurpassed loyalty of the Patrick James personnel are responsible for our firm’s success.”