John Flynn is the Chief Executive Officer of the British fashion brand Fred Perry, which was founded by the former British tennis champion Fred Perry, in the early 1950s. The tennis champion worked on a design for a sweatband with the Austrian footballer Tibby Wegner. Perry then designed his first T-shirt that was launched at Wimbledon in 1952 and was immediately successful. Thus, the Fred Perry clothing brand was born. The company began to make a loss in the 1990s, but Flynn’s appointment as the CEO of the company turned things around and made John Flynn a respected name in business circles. Although he is well known in the fashion and business worlds, there are many things that people do not know about this businessman. Here are 10 things you probably did not know about John Flynn.
1. He Began His Career at Marks & Spencer’s
Flynn has had links to the fashion industry since the beginning of his career, as he began his career working for Marks & Spencer’s, says The Guardian. Marks & Spencer’s is a British department store with its own fashion range. Flynn was a merchandiser for the company from 1975 to 1978.
2. Flynn Worked for Two Further Fashion Brands Before Joining Fred Perry
After leaving Marks &Spencer’s, John Flynn worked for two further fashion brands prior to joining the Fred Perry clothing brand. From 1979 to 1986, Flynn was a development manager for Levi Strauss. He then moved to Debenhams as a marketing director, a position he held from 1987 to 1990. Therefore, he had plenty of experience in the fashion industry before he joined the team at Fred Perry.
3. Flynn Has Been the CEO of Fred Perry Since 1993
John Flynn was promoted to the position of CEO of Fred Perry in 1993, although he had worked for the fashion brand for many years prior to this appointment as a marketing director. Flynn was specifically chosen for the position to lead the company as part of a turnaround.
4. He Led the Company Back into Profit
When John Flynn was appointed as the CEO of Fred Perry, the company was making a loss. The downturn in the company’s fortunes was predominantly due to the loss of direction that happened when the company was taken over by the conglomerate Figgie International. Due to being led by such a large and impersonal company, Fred Perry had lost its brand identity and fan base. One of Flynn’s biggest challenges was to revitalize the brand identity and reconnect with their target market. The other issue was the huge number of counterfeit products in circulation. Despite the challenges and the takeover of Fred Berry by Japanese distributor Hit Union in 1995, Flynn managed to turn things around for the company. It now makes millions in profit every year.
5. His Office Has No Management Books
As Flynn has such an important role in such a large clothing brand, it is reasonable to expect that his office is lined with management books. However, that is not the case as there is not a management book in sight. Instead, John Flynn has his office shelves filled with books that reflect current trends that potentially influence fashion trends. For example, he has a book of the graffiti art of Banksy and books on mods, including The Soul Stylists.
6. He Withdrew a T-Shirt from Sale Due to Neo-Fascists
According to The Sun, John Flynn was forced to withdraw a popular T-shirt from sale due to it becoming associated with a right-wing group called the Proud Boys. When the neo-fascist group was shown wearing the black and yellow T-shirts in the media, John Flynn released a statement saying that the group was nothing to do with them and that their views did not reflect those of the Fred Perry Brand. He has since withdrawn the popular T-shirts from sale in North America and Canada due to this issue.
7. John Flynn Helped Eddie Piller Set Up His Own Radio Station
Eddie Piller told Mod Culture that John Flynn supported him in setting up his own radio station. Piller and Flynn are old Mod friends, and Flynn rang Piller when he had just left Soho Radio. Flynn said he thought Piller was wasted not broadcasting and suggested the idea of Piller having his own station. Flynn then brought the Fred Perry team on-board to support Piller in founding Totally Wired Radio.
8. He Believes That Signing Andy Murray Was the Deal of the Year
In 2005, on behalf of Fred Perry, John Flynn signed Andy Murray to wear the brand’s tennis clothing. At the time, Any Murray was still in his teens and an up-and-coming tennis player on the international professional circuit. Murray was recognized as one of the game’s hottest prospects, said The Financial Times. In the interview, John Flynn said he considered it the deal of the year. He also said that they had not signed Murray to increase tennis sales, as this is only a small market. Flynn said the aim was to underline the Fred Perry brand’s roots in the sport.
9. He Was Unsure Whether He Wanted Murray to Win at Wimbledon
When Andy Murray played in the final at Wimbledon in 2013, John Flynn and the rest of the team at Fred Perry were unsure whether they wanted Murray to win. On the one hand, Murray was signed with them, and they wanted to support the British hopeful. On the other hand, they felt some loyalty to the founder of their brand, as Fred Perry had been the last British tennis player to win the final at Wimbledon in 1936. In a match that lasted for over three hours, Andy Murray beat favorite Novak Djokovic in straight sets.
10. Flynn Believes That Music Has Kept the Brand Alive
Although Fred Perry was originally a tennis brand, this is now only a small segment of the company’s market. John Flynn believes that it is music rather than sports that has kept the brand alive. Fred Perry Shirts was popular with the Mods in the 1960s and 1970s, and this was mainly thanks to the Carnaby Street phenomenon of that era. Flynn should know as he is a former Mod himself. The brand then got another boost during the mid-1990s when Britpop was the trend. Bands such as Blur and Oasis wore Fred Perry shirts, and their fans followed the trend.