- Bonobos‘ new CEO, Micky Onvural, says the company has had a great relationship with parent Walmart since it was acquired in 2017.
- In an interview with Business Insider, she said that Bonobos is providing insight on how to build digital brands, which is a new focus for Walmart.
- Other than that, Walmart helps out with resources but is mostly hands-off.
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Walmart was early on in the process of acquiring digital brands. Customers were working off of an old model of what Walmart stood for, which has evolved as the large chain has begun courting more urban and affluent customers.
Nearly two years later, it’s hard to say much has changed from the customer’s point of view — or from the company’s.
"We are still, at our hearts, scrappy, entrepreneurial, and true to ourselves," Bonobos’ new CEO, Micky Onvural, told Business Insider. Formerly serving as Bonobos’ CMO, she took the reins from founder Andy Dunn in late 2018 as he was tasked with leading Walmart’s broader digital-brand strategy.
What has changed is the parent company.
"From a strategic perspective, really, they want to learn how to build brands," Onvural said. "They are recognizing the power of brand and by having more and more brands in their portfolio, it’s a reason for a customer to come and shop with them whether that’s in store or online."
Bonobos is a key pillar of that as one of the first digitally native retail brands Walmart acquired. Bonobos’ expertise as an 11-year-old brand that sells mostly online is useful for Walmart to draw from for its wider ambitions, such as for building new brands like the bed-and-bedding label Allswell.
"That is sort of the role of the portfolio that Andy manages … building like Allswell, or buying these direct-to-consumer brands that offer unique selection for the Walmart ecosystem," Onvural said.
Under the umbrella of companies that Dunn shepherds is not only Bonobos and Allswell, but also Eloquii, a plus-size women’s fashion brand, and ModCloth, a vintage-inspired women’s clothing brand geared toward a younger consumer. Walmart also owns Bare Necessities, a lingerie brand; Moosejaw, an outdoors retailer; and Art.com, the largest seller of art prints on the internet.
Apart from interfacing between brands, Walmart is relatively hands-off while providing support where needed, Onvural said.
"Really how it works is they support us behind the scenes: credit card fees, shipping fees, distribution, those kinds of things," Onvural said. "From building the brand and the customer-experience perspective, we run it as a standalone business because of the importance of preserving that brand, because they recognize the importance of brand."
As one of the first under Walmart’s portfolio, Bonobos has seen the gradual change of its parent’s strategy for acquisitions.
"I definitely think that as they’ve acquired more, it’s felt smoother," Onvural said. "This has been a really great integration process, in the sense that it has respected what makes this brand and this business special culturally, and from a brand and from a customer perspective, but leveraged support where it makes sense."
"I feel incredibly lucky," Onvural said.
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