How – for the first time ever – Burberry is relevant to construction.

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No, the Long Cotton Gabardine Trench Coat selling for a mere $1795 is not “in” this year on the jobsite.


Wear that and you’ll be mercilessly ridiculed in multiple languages (see previous post on Discriminación).


If not for the classic trenchcoat then, how is Burberry relevant to the construction industry? 


Angela Ahrendts.


That name may not mean much to you now, but you’ll be hearing it more as Ahrendts exits as CEO of Burberry and becomes Senior VP of Retail at Apple.


Not many companies can persuade a sitting CEO to return to Underlingland. 

Apple happens to be one of those companies.


As Fast Company reports: 

For a talented and ambitious merchandiser like Ahrendts, though, revitalizing Apple’s enormous retail business might be the ultimate challenge. The Apple Stores’ annual revenue of just over $20 billion is more than six times Burberry’s, its 30,000-strong staff is almost three times as large, and–due respect to the trench coat–its products have insinuated themselves more thoroughly into consumers’ daily lives.


So what can the construction industry – specifically constructions retailers – learn from Ahrendts? 


While at Burberry, Ahrendts identified the demographic that would add incremental revenue in the short term and drive exponential growth in the long-term: the Chinese.     


She then went about making the Burberry retail experience memorable and easy for them. When everything in the store is more than a thousand bucks (OK – you can get a baby outfit for $145), there can’t be any speed bumps in the purchasing process.


An example of a speed bump?


Language, for one.


If I happen to be a Chinese national on holiday in Paris with an itch for a Double Knit Breton Sweater ($1595) impulse buy… a store clerk who speaks Mandarin would be ideal.


Ahrendts has planned for that.


Ahrendts has ensured that Mandarin-speaking associates are always available in all of Burberry’s major stores. And she instigated such innovations as a mobile team of Mandarin speakers who can be dispatched quickly to flagship stores worldwide during peak Chinese travel seasons. 

“Thirty percent of our shoppers in Paris are now Chinese,” says Burberry board member Ian Carter, the president of Hilton Hotels. “Angela has been great at seeing that gap in the market.”


If you are in construction retail, there’s a gap in the market as well.


Sure, maybe your San Diego and Long Island stores are catering to Mexicans and Puerto Ricans respectively, with bilingual employees around the clock, but what about Nashville, Portland and Charlotte?


The Hispanic demographic is growing throughout the U.S.


Every cliente counts.


Every construction retailer should have a Hispanic marketing strategy currently in place. If you are unaware of your Hispanic marketing strategy, here are some high-level bullet points for your next meeting:


Largest minority in the U.S.?



Fastest growing minority in the U.S.?



Most entrepreneurial demographic in the U.S.?



Youngest median age in the U.S.?




Hispanics will be a significant part of your future business.

They should be a big part of your current business because… there are lots of Hispanics in construction now.



They are buying from someone.

If it’s not you… look to Angela Ahrendts.


Build a brand that Hispanics trust.

Don’t just sell a step-ladder or a gallon of paint.

Sell the relationship.

Sell trust.


Make it easy to buy from you.

Be memorable.

Speak their language. 


But whatever you do, stay away from the Long Cotton Gabardine Trench Coat.




Bradley Hartmann is founder and El Presidente at Red Angle (, a training and consulting firm bridging the English-Spanish language gap in the construction industry.    

If you enjoyed this post and would be interested in other related content, subscribe to our monthly Newsletter – the Red Angle Revista. Once a month, no fluff, no sales pitches. Just ideas and language skills to help you run a better job.

Categories: Construction Spanish

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1 reply

  1. Muy bueno, muchachocito. Dig it.

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