The name Phil Vickery MBE is synonymous with Rugby, especially here in Gloucestershire. He enjoyed 11 seasons at Gloucester Rugby Club and has been one of our best loved local sporting heroes. Capped 73 times for England, he played in the winning World Cup team in 2003 and led the team to the finals in 2007. He retired from Rugby in 2010 and now lives near Highnam with his wife Kate and two young children.
Having been nicknamed ‘Raging Bull’ by former England rugby player and coach Sir Clive Woodward, it was only fitting that it would become the name of his clothing company, launched in 2003.
Originally the brand was aimed at grass roots rugby clubs and schools but as it became more successful it has also become a fashion brand selling high quality sports and leisure wear to a wider market. This includes the young ‘preppy’ set such as Prince Harry and chums who love the hoodies and T-shirts, but also the more mature, discerning customer, who tends to go for the classic rugby and polo shirts. Both ranges now cater for men and ladies.
At the end of 2007 Phil was joined by Shannon Mercer who came on board to assess the business and drive it forward. Having worked with brands such as Timberland and Levi (where she was the retail ops manager), Shannon was the right person to help Raging Bull adopt its own brand values.
They began trading from the RFU store in Twickenham and in branches of High & Mighty, and over the next couple of seasons Raging Bull clothing was also available from Shop Direct, Countrywide and Debenhams online. When they opened in Cheltenham last autumn, they took a ‘pop-up’ shop in the Regent Arcade, but it was never intended to be a permanent home. Using Phil’s name to endorse the brand and her considerable experience in men’s fashion and retail in general, Shannon approached House of Fraser and persuaded them to give Raging Bull floor space in their prestigious Cheltenham store Cavendish House in May this year.
With plans to grow the business in another five House of Fraser stores starting with Bristol in September, Raging Bull has also teamed up with Beaufort Polo, where it has become the favourite leisure wear of England Polo players Mark and Luke Tomlinson. The plan is now to take Raging Bull to the next level with footwear, eyewear and cosmetics.
‘It’s an exciting time,’ says Shannon, ‘Moving into the fashion and leisure market was “a leap of faith”, but I had a belief in the brand that it would succeed.’
While Phil is the brand ambassador, representing the store’s ‘customer’, Shannon is busy putting a 3-year business plan together. Originally from Luton, she has always travelled with work but finally settled here with her husband Andy. They have been together for 19 years and have two boys, Harvey aged nine and Oliver, six. Shannon’s Irish mum lives with them in Hartpury and looks after the boys when Shannon is working at her job as MD of Raging Bull. ‘She makes my life easy,’ says Shannon ‘and is so proud of what I have achieved.’
Raging Bull is located In Cavendish House in the Promenade. You can visit the website at: