Macpac is an iconic Kiwi brand, with a story that has its roots in Christchurch back in 1973. Guided by a vision to design packs that could stand up to New Zealand’s alpine conditions, the brand quickly became pioneers in their field. Over 40 years and countless adventures later, Macpac’s premium outdoor clothing and equipment is sold all over the world. From the city to the mountains, Macpac gear accompanies explorers all over the world. James Prusas, Supply Chain Manager, explains how the brand has developed and grown into an international wilderness brand.
1/ Macpac focuses on inspiring inspiration amongst staff and ambassadors. Going back to the beginning, where did the inspiration come to start the Macpac brand?
Our story began in a Christchurch garage back in 1973. A young Bruce McIntyre was frustrated by a lack of backpacks on the market that were technical and fit-for-purpose in New Zealand’s unforgiving terrain. Passionate and inspired, Bruce set up shop in his parent’s garage, starting off with his own designs, and a spirit of collaboration, eventually going on to work alongside the Canterbury Mountaineering Club to design packs for a South American Expedition. The pack that emerged from this partnership was New Zealand’s first internal frame climbing pack – the Torre Egger.
At the time, Bruce McIntyre couldn’t have realised that his small idea would grow to a global brand name with 44 stores across Australia and New Zealand
2/ With the foundations starting from the design of backpack, what are your most successful products today and why?
Our designers are all based in New Zealand – but their experience extends far beyond fashion design. They’re all people who are passionate about the outdoors – from running and cycling, to hiking, climbing and beyond. Their passion and genuine interest in the outdoors feeds directly into our products.
While our packs remain an integral part of our business and brand identity, our down jackets are our most popular products, particularly during the cooler months. Our down expertise is unrivalled, honed from generations of experience engineering sleeping bags and jackets for sub-zero conditions.
We also work alongside the New Zealand Alpine Team since on our premium technical range – the Alpine Series. These products are designed in partnership with the team’s elite mountaineers who take the gear and test it on the world’s harshest alpine routes.
Obviously this is at the extreme end of climbing, but we can take some of those fantastic ideas and put them into our adventure gear.
We also have many other Macpac Ambassadors that use our gear on a range of adventures around the globe – from wilderness photography, to snow sports, ultra running, environmental research, and hiking.
3/ The Macpac business model drives sales both online and offline. Why do you feel it is important to be visible across both areas?
Our online presence gives us more exposure where we don’t have bricks and mortar retail stores. We currently only have stores in Australia and New Zealand, but customers the world over.
We have a good online presence with positive imagery that showcases the New Zealand culture and heritage – and as a result we are seeing a lot of growth from customers in Europe, Japan and America. Our online side is going from strength to strength, so much that we need to keep employing extra people to manage the sales increases.
We also have a wholesaler that sells on our behalf in Japan. They are very passionate about Macpac and stringent with quality, which continues to spur on our growth.
4/ You also specalise in the supply of products to a wide range of commercial businesses? Who are your biggest customers and why?
Our products are aspirational. Our customers want a top-end products for uniforms or to give as gifts to their clients and staff from a company that has great beliefs and values. So we don’t just attract corporates that deal in the business of adventure and the outdoors, but also businesses such as law firms, tourism companies, government departments and insurance companies that are looking for quality products that last.
5/ You distribute your products to locations all over the world. Where are your most popular locations?
We now send products to over 56 countries. Our most popular destinations include America, Japan, Europe and Australia
6/ Where do you manufacture your products?
We manufacture our products in carefully selected factories throughout Asia – mainly China, but we also manufacture in Taiwan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Philippines and Indonesia depending on the requirement. We visit all of these factories regularly as part of our social compliance policy to ensure they maintain our standards. We’re firm believers that sustainability starts with quality products that last – but before products, come our people, and we’re dedicated to providing a safe and happy working environment for all who contribute to our brand
When it comes to our longstanding supply partners, we also try to build deep partnerships that transcend the office environment. We’ve been working with many of these companies for a number of years. They visit us here in New Zealand, and we ensure we spend quality time with them.
When making decisions on products, they are not just cost based decisions but we also take into consideration the impact on our environment as well as the staff who are manufacturing our goods. We know that the happier our staff are, the better quality products we produce.
7/ Working with distributors and suppliers all over the world, what considerations have you had to make to your logistics strategy?
We are still developing our logistics strategy. We bring in products by sea freight and for our web store, and we use DHL to send throughout the world
We are currently reviewing our distribution process and will look at overseas options as part of our future growth strategy. This would help ease the congestion during our peak warehouse and lessen shipping times throughout the year. We will continue to evaluate our options as our brand evolves and grows.
8/ What role has DHL played in helping Macpac achieve success?
We have partnered with the DHL for the last 10 years. We use DHL to distribute all our web store orders. Every single item that is sent via the web store to outside of New Zealand is delivered by DHL.
We have a great agreement with DHL with fantastic service and regular feedback. It’s a well-functioning platform that works well for us.