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The Real Peter Nygard Part II

The Clifton Review 


The Clifton Review is a tri-weekly column that examines the question of the Clifton project along with the evolution of the war between two billionaires. We covered the start of this war with articles describing the battle over easement rights, the mysterious burning of a home, the blocks to rebuilding, and countless questionable court filings.

While the 2018 series salutes fashion mogul Peter Nygård’s Golden Jubilee detailing his rags to riches story, his incredible business success over these past fifty years and an inside look at how he did it, The Clifton Review will also continue to address current affairs as they relate to the good of The Bahamas.

The Real Peter Nygard Part II

By P.J. Malone

“Will the real Peter Nygard please stand up.” There are many sides to fashion mogul Peter Nygard as Marina Sturdza has shared in her 1987 article “Who is the real Nygard?” 

Previously we highlighted several characteristics of Nygard that appeared to greatly contribute to his ability to make his business such a huge success. Sturdza also zeroed in on some of the ones we presented. Below are excerpts from what she shared in her article, which continues from Part I:

There’s Nygard the perfectionist, who before launching his denim division, examined no fewer than 60 products, checking every detail, counting belt loops, pockets and the number of stitches per inch, measuring waist bands and checking logo positions. Nygard’s own denim product was submitted to every conceivable wear and performance test, until it met his demands.

Even so, he ordered the production line stopped, when he zeroed in on a minor offending detail—and expensive three-week delay that cost the company thousands of dollars.

Similarly, for his classic Alia pant, available in 56 different colors, Nygard insisted on a costly one-piece waistband plus custom-dyed thread, buttons and zippers to match each of the 56 shades—all for a garment slated to retail at a ridiculously low $26, that is churned out at the staggering rate of 30,000 a week. 

There’s Nygard the arch-competitor… a man whose compulsion to conquer and succeed in all his endeavors is seemingly endless.

All of the above are, or have been, the real Peter Nygard. But emerge with a remarkably limited portrait of the man, who’s considerably more complex than he’s likely to admit. Says Nygard: “What you see is what you get.” Not entirely.

No one ever built a $200-million clothing empire on mere flamboyance, hedonism, and a knack for self-promotion, and nobody ever did it alone. And Nygard’s ability to retain top-level executives … is testimony to the caliber of Nygard’s operation and the opportunities he offers. And the company’s impressive growth record—Nygard International has never failed to turn a consistently high profit, and sales have doubled every five years—indicates that Nygard is clearly paying attention to business.

Nygard’s route to fashion supremacy may not have been as glamorous as that of his higher-end designer market peers, but in North America, the middle-market is where the numbers are and where the profit lies. What’s more, Nygard’s record has greatly endeared him to his retailers, and will doubtless earn him a privileged reception for his next venture, a signature collection pitted directly against Canada’s “better” manufacturers.

Nygard further protects his retailers’ interests (and incidentally, his own) by providing thorough product information and staff indoctrination, plus enviable display and co-op advertising support. So effective are his tactics that Nygard’s Canadian retail sales amount to $4 per capita, for every man, woman and child in this country—all the more impressive when you consider the company’s low price points—$25 to $150, and the sheer number of units represented. In total, Nygard produces 10 to 12 million garments a year in his Thunder Bay, Winnipeg, Los Angeles, Taiwan, Korea, Hong Kong and Chinese factories.

And you can’t ignore Nygard the industry innovator, whose arsenal of computer software tracks everything from design and fabrication specifications, sales and marketing programs, immediate sales figures, customer data, stock levels, and accounts receivable, plus myriad other business details. Nygard’s electronic message system also connects him instantly to any of his 30 international offices. In a business in which today’s hot trend is all-too rapidly tomorrow’s ennui, that’s money in the bank.

And, for all that he’s painted as a jet-setter, a party-goer par excellence, Nygard remains a loner, an essentially solitary man whose invariable priority is his work. 

There’s also Nygard the family man, who takes pleasure in providing his family with a luxurious life in Nassau, and who flies his parents in to share all the important occasions of his life.

While Nygard’s glittering glass-enclosed new building could be construed as a self-aggrandizing and needlessly extravagant expenditure, it is also a stunning Toronto landmark that will most certainly pay off in increased sales and employee productivity. In fact, says Jim Bennett, the building’s showroom and display facilities have already prompted an increase in orders. And, since Nygard intends to make his multiple-use building available to other designers and fashion organizations, it’s also an elegant gift of space to the industry and to the city.

The interesting thing from this perspective is that it appears nothing has changed with respect to Nygard’s approach to his business. We can see how his consistency has helped him to continuously achieve mega success while so many other retailers have gone out of business.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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