Henry Hales started SIRPLUS in 2010, after discovering a niche opportunity in the men’s boxer shorts market. While strolling down London’s Jermyn Street, world renowned for shirt-making and tailoring, he noticed that there was a large surplus of fabric in the shirt-making process. “I realised there was a lot of wasted high quality fabric and I could use this to make products that I could sell locally,” explains Henry.
Henry started producing and selling his boxer short merchandise in fairs and market stalls and quickly realized the potential to enhance SIRPLUS, by extending his product line to include waistcoats and jackets as well. In 2011 an online shopping platform was launched to support his growing brand.
The first permanent shop was an evolution from his humble market store. “I used to have the same spot on the Portobello Road for about seven or eight years. It was a really great way to get good press and social media and to use this to direct people to the spot. However, being outside was very weather dependent. It was also tiring and cold,” Hales states. This all changed when Henry realised that as luck would have it, there was a vacant unit located directly behind his market stall. “I realised this could work as a shop and we were making enough on the market stall to sustain this.” The shop had been vacant for about 5 years. A rent was agreed and the first SIRPLUS shop came into existence two years ago. It was subsequently joined by another permanent store in Camden Passage.
Henry quickly realised that the SIRPLUS product and brand was well liked and well followed, but the key was all about being in the right area and offering the right product. This is also why pop-up works so well for the brand. As Henry says, “Online and physical retail are not separate entities; people do their research online and go into the store and vice versa.” With the help of Storefront, he started looking for other areas to have a flexible and short to medium term retail presence. “Storefront have been very good at finding the right spaces that work with our requirements and keeping us abreast of the market and also ensuring that negotiations with landlords run smoothly,” states Henry.
SIRPLUS pop-ups include a long-term retail space in Islington, followed by one in Piccadilly. Their latest pop-up is at 178a on the Kings Road in Chelsea, which will operate for six months and was also procured by Storefront. “We didn’t have anything in the South West London area, and then this space came along and it is the right size and space for what we require,” says Henry.
The beauty of the pop-up is that it allows for flexibility and experimentation and SIRPLUS has the added advantage of being able to quickly utilise these elements. “Because we’ve done lots of events and sold from numerous markets, we already have lots of components and we have become very slick at packing up and setting down,” explains Henry. “We’ve already built all the modular display units, which allow us to be adaptable and changeable, with our retail environments.”
As Henry started SIRPLUS selling face-to-face and building up relationships with his customers, he highly values the opportunity for his staff and his brand to maintain this through the stores. “This interaction is very important to us, because most of our customers have been with us for a very long time and they know us and our staff, and you cannot put a price on the value of this,” he adds.
Because the core values of the brand were founded on reducing waste, Henry is using his retail offer as a platform to launch a tree planting initiative. Over the Black Friday weekend, SIRPLUS teamed up with drinks brand, Sapling Spirits and for every order they make, they will plant a tree. As Henry adds “Our brand heritage is all about being reusable and sustainable, while also delivering exceptional quality and this is an initiative we are proud to be part of.”
As far as pop-ups are concerned, they will continue to be very much part of the SIRPLUS strategy, to quickly take advantage of introducing their unique range of merchandise to various new and pertinent locations.