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ICMS Graduate Drives Budgy Smuggler Growth

ICMS Graduate Drives Budgy Smuggler Growth

March 12, 2018

Quirky Australian swimwear company Budgy Smuggler has shown massive growth over the past few years, and recently opened its first store in Manly, Northern Beaches Council.

The company, which operates out of an apartment and manufactures its swimwear and activewear range in Sydney, has grown around 50% every year for the last seven or eight years in a row.

“It’s been great to be a part of this and to see such significant, consistent growth,” general manager Brenden Hartmann said.

Hartmann is an International College of Management, Sydney (ICMS) alumnus, having completed his business degree in 2012.

“ICMS is an outstanding place to study. Instead of travelling to the other side of the city, you get to study overlooking one of Australia’s best beaches.”

“My ICMS degree gave me a sound understanding of the basic principles upon which businesses operate. From straight forward, black-and-white scenarios – like accounting – to more complex areas, like managing conflict and forging strategic relationships, everything I learned has come in handy!” Hartmann said.

The story of Budgy Smuggler is one of identifying a great idea, one that would resonate with the market, and chipping away at making that idea into a viable and success business. Budgy Smuggler are now a recognised Australian brand – making inroads in the international market – and are worn by top sportsman and women.

“Budgy smuggler” – correct spelling “budgie” – is a slang term for men’s swimming briefs. When someone scrawled the words on the back of a pair of bathers and that drew a few laughs, the company was born. This was back in 2003, but the company’s real start came when Adam Linforth took over the business around 2006.

“Back then, there were days – sometimes full weeks – without orders coming through the website and Budgy Smuggler was operated from one bedroom in a four bedroom apartment,” Hartmann said.

“I started at Budgy Smuggler on a casual basis not long after finishing my degree at ICMS and became Budgy’s first full time employee a little over a year later – taking the role of General Manager. Since then we’ve brought on four other full time staff in the areas of Graphic Design, Production Management and Activations and Promotions.”

The Budgy Smuggler team are still operating from the original apartment, and continue to manufacture locally. The range available has also grown to include women’s swimwear, activewear, children’s swimwear and accessories such as towels and hats.

Budgy Smuggler products were only available online through until the business opened its first store in Manly on 30 September last year.

“Every Christmas and summer here in Australia is bigger than the last for Budgy Smuggler.​ I’m especially proud of the consistent growth we have been able to maintain, year on year,” Hartmann said.

Budgy Smuggler has launched a UK specific website ( and warehouse that facilitates orders to the UK and Europe, meaning that customers in that area can get their orders overnight instead of waiting four to five days for a parcel to arrive from Australia.

“Our industry is online retail, which is focused on technology and instant purchases. ​It’s always changing, which makes things exciting. ​The speed at which someone can receive a parcel is only getting quicker and the ways people are using the internet to make purchases is always changing,” Hartmann said.

“It’s our goal to stay up-to-date with emerging technologies and online systems to make sure we’re meeting the demands of online shoppers.

Budgy Smuggler optimises its tongue-in-cheek marketing with entertaining, tongue-in-cheek names for its swimwear, and by inviting wearers of Budgy Smuggler to engage on social media with photographs and suggestions of names and ideas for swimear.

Budgy Smuggler also takes part in socially conscious and community-centric endeavours, such as partnering with Sydney’s Strut the Streets, a mass walk that raises money for AIME.

“I think the secret to any business is building loyal growth. We’ve spent a number of years building this loyal following by starting with our local areas and expanding out from there, rather than trying to be everywhere at once,” Hartmann said.

“We found it best to start small and build from the bottom upwards, rather than trying to build every level quickly; it’s better to have a solid foundation to grow on.”

As for the future, Hartmann reckons the sky is the limit for Budgy Smuggler.

“From what I’ve seen, the company is only going to get bigger. We still have a long way to go, other countries to expand into and more avenues to explore. I’m looking forward to what’s ahead for the company.”

​For more information on Budgy Smuggler, click here:

For more information on how ICMS can provide you with the tools to succeed as Brenden has, click here:


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