Fifteen questions with Hugo Boss

Aug 31, 2017
<p>Dennis Weber is head of investor relations at German fashion house Hugo Boss</p>

1. How long have you been in IR?

I spent three months in IR as part of my traineeship at adidas in 2005. I was fascinated by the role right from the start, so I became a permanent member of the team there in 2006. In 2010, I took over responsibility for IR at Hugo Boss.

2. What did you do before IR?

I started as a finance trainee at adidas in 2004 after I finished university.

3. What are your qualifications?

I studied European business in Germany and Sydney and I am a CFA charterholder.

4. How is your team set up?

As well as me, there is one other person in direct contact with analysts and investors and one team member who works on a diverse list of internal tasks ranging from preparing the Q&A pool for our AGM to managing our website. The other two team members handle external reporting.

5. How many roadshows and investor conferences do you take part in each year?

We normally conduct between 20 and 25 roadshows a year and attend more than 10 conferences, partly industry-specific, partly generalist events.

6. Do you hold investor days?

Yes, once a year. We had one at group headquarters in Metzingen, Germany, at the beginning of August. But we also hosted events in New York, Hong Kong, Paris and London over the last few years.

7. Do you use social media as part of your investor relations program?

We have looked into this, but at the moment we don’t and nobody seems to miss it.

8. Do you receive support from any external IR firms?

Only when it comes to specialized work in areas such as shareholder identification. We also use an IR system to manage our interactions with investors.

9. What is the most popular question from analysts and investors right now?

‘Are you worried that there are fewer and fewer people wearing suits today?’ Investors tend to underestimate the strength of our offering in casualwear and athleisure.

10. Has Hugo Boss taken any initiatives to prepare for the regulatory changes that will come from Mifid II?

We have more than 30 analysts covering us, so we continue to have far more roadshow requests than we can satisfy. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

11. What’s been the biggest challenge of your IR career?

Between the end of 2015 and the end of last year, when Hugo Boss underwent a difficult period marked by a disappointing financial performance, several management changes and the recalibration of strategy. In the end it was right not to hide but to go on the road and face all concerns head-on. In hindsight, investors and analysts valued my work in this period even more than in the ‘sunny days’ beforehand.

12. What’s your favorite thing about IR?

The combination of communication and finance makes IR a great role. I also like the diversity of people and tasks you deal with. I believe there are few jobs where you are in direct contact with so many clever people.

13. And your least favorite?

I generally like being on the road, but in peak travel times I sometimes wish I could spend more time at home with the family.

14. What do you enjoy doing outside work?

I’ve got three young kids so spending time with the family is top of the list. I’m very much into sports, both actively, when running or hiking, and passively – I’ve been through the (few) ups and (many) downs of Fortuna Düsseldorf for 30 years now.

15. If you could pass on one IR lesson, what would it be?

The crisis period at Hugo Boss I mentioned earlier taught me that it is always better to communicate than not, even if you have a difficult message to bring across. Fortunately, all the people I met remembered the old saying that one should not shoot the messenger!

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