From triathlete to sportswear: Interview with Mike Martin, Sales and Marketing Director at 2XU
Worn by athletes all over the world, from the AFL to the NBA, 2XU has become a leader in performance garments, specifically known for their medical-grade compression tights. The company’s Sales and Marketing Director (EMEA), Mike Martin, tells FashionUnited, “aside from our tights providing amazing performance and recovery advantages, the high quality powerful lycra we use also makes you look great which appeals to those wearing our tights in more casual environments.”
Currently, activewear represents 24 percent of total apparel industry sales and is forecast to grow through 2019 based on a recent analysis by NPD. As seen on FashionUnited’s careers page, this phenomenon has led to an increase in job opportunities at sportswear brands such as Nike and Under Armour.
To be fit is now fashionable which has been driven by people’s increasing awareness of their own health and environment. As we all lead increasingly busy lives, it is inevitable that our work and personal time blend more-so having the right clothes to wear that can help you step from one environment into the next without appearing out of place is increasingly important.
What does being the Sales and Marketing Director of EMEA at 2XU entail?
My role entails managing our team to drive sales via all sales channels. The UK and Nordics are subsidiary business, so I dedicate about 70 percent of my time to these markets whilst the rest of my time is spent on finding new customers and assisting our current distribution partners across EMEA.
From a marketing perspective I am responsible for the marketing strategy via all touch points, sponsorships, events, social and retail. We have been focused on improving how we look in-store and online to drive greater sell through and to educate our customers as to what sets 2XU apart from our competition
What does a typical workday look like for you?
I am based in the UK and spend on average about two days a week in the office with our great team-the rest of the time I am out in market across EMEA assisting our distributors or key wholesale accounts. I also find it really useful to work at sporting events which we may be sponsoring or just attending, to stay in touch with our customers and listen to their feedback.
The casual sportswear market is on the rise globally, how has 2XU been affected by this phenomenon?
2XU was certainly in the market at the right time as with 70 percent of our business coming from compression-with the majority of that being women’s tights. We experienced an uplift globally, when leggings started to out sell denim.
Although the sportswear market has become increasingly competitive, we have remained focused on being performance driven which gives us a strong point of difference from a lot of our competitors.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy working in an industry where I’m genuinely passionate about being with my colleagues and customers who all love talking about sports and what personal challenges they have set for themselves.
How did you become the Sales and Marketing Director of EMEA at 2XU?
While finishing up my MSc in Management at Bath, I was also training as a triathlete. By chance I met Mike Trees (former triathlete and owner of TCL Sports (2XU UK distributor) at a lake where I was visiting to practice some open water swimming. He was just starting to launch 2XU as a distribution business in the UK and was looking for help get it started. At the time I was looking at starting a role within consultancy but the truth is I had no real passion for it so decided to take advantage of the opportunity and work with Mike to build up 2XU. This then set me on a rollercoaster ride for several years while we established the brand in the UK.
What was it like being involved at such an early stage of the company?
We all worked tirelessly but had great fun and learned a lot. We started literally as a bedroom business and built it over the years. At the end of 2014, we decided we had taken the brand as far as we could and it was time to transition the business back to being a subsidiary. I then helped manage the transition and became the Sales and Marketing Director for the UK business. Over time, our team has grown, and I have been able to move into a wider role looking after the sales and marketing across EMEA.
Did you always want to work in the sportswear and retail industry?
Yes, although I was a competitive runner and triathlete, I soon realised I was not good enough to earn money from being an athlete, so I was so fortunate when I had an opportunity that combined my passion with a career. Although triathlon is only about 11 percent of our business globally, it is still the arm of the business that is of most interest to me.
Do you have any tips for people who would like to work for 2XU?
Treat the business as if it were your own. If you feel ownership you will care about what you do and it will make you drive yourself harder to ensure you achieve what you set out to do. It is a tough market at the moment, but I believe that part of our success is as a result of the passionate team we have.
What’s the best advice you've ever received?
My job is only ever complete once a customer has bought a product, worn it out and has come back for more. We should always be focused on the sell through and supporting our customers to achieve this, we like to work with our partners for the long term so it’s important to always do the right thing.
Any memorable moments in your career at 2XU that you’d like to share with us?
The founders have become good friends and seeing the hard work and sacrifice they’ve put in over the years to build up 2XU has taught me a lot. After 10 years working for the brand they presented me with a lifetime service award which meant a great deal knowing that the effort I had put in over the years had been recognised.
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Photos: courtesy of 2XU