Former Executives of Fung Retailing Group, Macy’s Inc., Société General, Credit Suisse Launch New Retail Group, Acquire First Purpose-Driven Brand
Dustin Jones and Greg Freihofner announce launch of Unified Commerce Group, combining a global operating network with data and technology to unlock growth for next generation brands
Dustin Jones, Omnichannel & New Retail pioneer and former Managing Director of Fung Retailing Group and Executive Vice President at Macy’s Inc., and Wall Street veteran Greg Freihofner, former Managing Director of Société General and Senior Vice President at Credit Suisse, officially announce the formation of Unified Commerce Group (UCG), a New Retail acquisition and advisory group designed to drive innovation in the retail industry by acquiring purpose-driven brands and scaling them in the world’s largest retail economies. UCG is finalizing its first acquisition, of Montreal-based, fashion and lifestyle brand, Frank And Oak, and intends to provide it with the necessary resources to expand into new, profitable markets while offering access to UCG’s multi-disciplinary retail experts and vast industry network.
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“We’re very excited to announce the launch of Unified Commerce Group and share our innovative approach to brand acquisition and expansion,” said Jones, co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Unified Commerce Group. “While the pandemic has accelerated the disruption the retail industry has been facing, UCG will bring a fresh approach that leads into the future of retail, leveraging our unique platform and deep industry insights to partner with brands that we believe in, and grow and operate those brands on a global scale.”
“At UCG, we’re interested in acquiring and advising brands that are data-driven, appeal to global consumers and are poised to scale,” said Freihofner, co-Founder and Chief Financial Officer of Unified Commerce Group. “We’re taking a symbiotic approach to brand acquisition by acquiring and investing in brands that have strengths in different areas. By taking this approach, in combination with our extensive network and multi-faceted industry experts, UCG’s platform is looking to ensure the long-term growth and profitability of our brands.”
UCG will focus on three core areas for identifying brands to partner with, including: being purpose-driven, having global appeal, and being advanced in digitization. Frank And Oak, combining style, design, and technology fits UCG’s model perfectly. The brand offers collections of clothing and accessories for men and women that are thoughtfully designed and well suited to meet the lifestyles of its customers.
“In order to succeed within the shifting global retail market, brands must change their way of working to put the consumer at the center of everything they do,” said Elisabeth de Gramont, Chief Brand Officer of UCG. “With the launch of UCG, we’ve created a platform that will design, operate, and scale brands so that they will appeal to consumer audiences on a global level, while ensuring locally relevant execution in the shifting trends of the North American and Asian markets.”
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“We’re very excited to partner with Unified Commerce Group during the next step of the Frank And Oak journey,” said Jeremy Brown, Chief Executive Officer of Frank And Oak. “Unified Commerce Group shares the same values and principles as our team does and I have every confidence in the UCG team to take our business to new heights, allowing us to enter the global retail market and reach a new range of consumers while maintaining our Montreal roots.”
UCG’s advisory board members include: Terry Lundgren, Former Chairman & CEO, Macy’s Inc.; Gary Boss, Partner, Clifford Chance; Bonnie Chen, Global Chinese Influencer & Top Chinese Supermodel; Lale Kesebi, CEO, Human-at-Work; and Former Chief Communications Officer at Li & Fung Ltd.; Stanley Szeto, Executive Chairman, Lever Style Inc.; Nicole Richie, Global Celebrity; Joel Madden, CEO, MDDN & Lead Singer, Good Charlotte; and, Tim Adams, Former Chairman, Macy’s China Ltd.
“The retail landscape is changing in unprecedented ways; from the pandemic to new digital and direct-to-consumer players, as well as changing lifestyles and fashion choices,” said Lundgren. “Since his days at Macy’s, I’ve witnessed Dustin become a pioneer in digital retail and innovation, and forge important partnerships with global players like the Alibaba Group and the Fung Group. Dustin and the UCG team have the skills, the innovative thinking, and the global network to bring a new model to the market when it is most needed.”
“UCG has an unparalleled understanding of the retail industry and unmatched insight into how to introduce, develop, and position brands locally in China and globally,” said Boss. “Dustin and Greg have thoughtfully developed UCG’s platform, and the team’s extensive experience and industry know-how make UCG uniquely positioned to identify opportunities in the retail space and help brands succeed in the key Chinese retail market.”
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“The UCG founding team embodies the ‘Team Next’ that has the vision and the experience to build a new model for the future of retail,” said Kesebi. “In addition to their expertise in retail, tech, marketing, and operations, the UCG team is composed of leaders who have a real vision to reinvent traditional retail with a global consumer at the center. Essential to this is the UCG team’s deep cross-cultural understanding and experience in both U.S. and Asia, which makes them unique among senior leaders in the retail industry today.”
“UCG’s approach to acquiring brands is less about the numbers and more about whether or not that brand fits into their holistic vision of the future consumer and retail,” said Madden. “They’re looking for brands that have authenticity and a genuine identity. Dustin and Greg approach the world and look at brands in a soulful way – they’re committed to maintaining and amplifying the true core of these brands – and that’s what excites me about this launch and their offering. There’s really unlimited potential.”
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