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Zalando considers opening stores in London, Berlin & Paris

London - Imagine walking into a Zalando brick and mortar store in London, or Berlin or Paris and being able to touch and see their fashion offering in person. This thought may just become a reality in the not so distance future as the online giant is currently pondering on opening flagship stores in a number of key cities.

"We have proper fans in the metropolises who spend much time with us and order a lot. It could be interesting for them to also experience the brand offline," said Rubin Ritter, co-chief executive and member of the board at Zalando to German publication Manager Magazin. Although the idea of opening a series of brand stores is still in early stages, it would not be the first physical stores Zalando would open. The German online retailer currently operates a number of outlet in Berlin, Frankfurt and Cologne.

Zalando considers opening stores in London, Berlin & Paris

Zalando mulls over opening flagship stores in London, Paris and Berlin

However the opening of flagship stores would signal a significant step in the online retailer's growth, as Zalando has been investing in expanding its presence both on and offline over the past few years. In 2015 Zalando acquired bankrupted trade show Bread & Butter and transformed the concept into a consumer-facing fashion festival, which is said to have been the company's first step in offering services outside of the online realm, according to Ritter. Zalando also acquired online retailer Kickz in March, which also runs a number of physical stores.

"Physical stores are more of an experiential world in our view, not just a source of revenue," said David Schneider in a previous interview with FashionUnited DE. "That is why we did not work with traditional stores earlier...We are moving away from a pure retail mindset, because it is not only about buying and selling products. We want to focus on becoming a platform where we bring the strengths and skills of the different parties together in a unique network. We want to give our customers the best possible shopping experience, regardless of where the products are coming from."

Zalando considers opening stores in London, Berlin & Paris

In addition to mulling over opening physical stores, Zalando is said to be looking into introducing additive manufacturing, or 3D printing for local production. Ritter notes that it would be especially beneficial for the company to use the technology to reprint best selling sneakers and items from small and medium-sized fashion brands directly in Berlin, to cut down on lead time and supplement its other logistical and fulfilment options.

Founded in Berlin, Germany in 2008 Zalando has expanded rapidly over the past years to become one of Europe's leading online retailers. At the moment Zalando offers 1,500 brands to consumers across 15 countries. In 2016 Zalando reported a 23 percent in turnover to 3.6 billion euros, driven by a 11 percent increase in customers to 20 million.

Photos: Courtesy of Zalando

​Hunkemöller eyes up UK expansion

London - Leading European lingerie brand Hunkemöller has its sights set on dominating the UK market, as the brand explores options to open a series of standalone stores across the country.

Philip Mountford, Hunkemöller's chief executive, revealed that the lingerie giant is currently considering several options to open brick and mortar store in the UK, including a potential location on London's Oxford Street. A Hunkemöller spokesperson previously revealed to FashionUnited UK that the lingerie retailer could possibly opened its own stores or concession in the UK, but noted that there were "no firm plans" in place at the time. However, now the lingerie brand hopes to open its first UK store by the end of 2018-2019, but Mountford believes that the opening could come even sooner if the right opportunity arises, as he believes Hunkemöller holds great potential in the UK.

​Hunkemöller eyes up UK expansion

Hunkemöller aims to open debut UK store by the end of 2017

"The UK is dominated by retailers like Marks & Spencer and Debenhams," said Mountford to the Daily Mail on Sunday. "We fit perfectly into the niche between M&S and Victoria’s Secret." Hunkemöller's UK push comes a few months after the lingerie brand launched its dedicated UK webstore. The Dutch brand was previously available in the UK through Hunkemöller's global e-commerce platform, but following its acquisition by the Carlyle Group in late 2015, it began its accelerated expansion scheme which sees the lingerie brand opening stores in Kuwait, Russia, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, New Zealand and Trinidad between 2016-2018.

"We’ve got 900 stores," added Mountford. "We’re about to go into Switzerland and Norway and our team is looking at London.When we find the right opportunity we will go in." Hunkemöller previously operated a concession stand in House of Fraser Oxford Street store in 2011, but eventually withdraw from the UK, opting to remain active online. At the time of Hunkemöller's dedicated UK web store opening last year, the lingerie retailer's business was increasing 53 percent annually on a like-for-like basis, as the company aims to see omni-channel sales account for 10 percent of its global sales by the end of the year.

​Hunkemöller eyes up UK expansion

Hunkemöller UK expansion strategy comes as the Dutch lingerie label aims to continue rolling out its activewear label HKMX further across Europe. Over the last two years, Hunkemöller's HKMX label has continued to grow, achieving a turnover of 20 million euros (16.9 million pounds) in 2016. Hunkemöller opened its debut HKMX flagship store in Berlin, Germany, last week as the brand aims to open another 3 stores later this year and open a total of 50 standalone HKMX stores over the next five years.

Photos: Hunkemöller flagship store in the Kalverstraat and HKMX store in Berlin.

Fenwick to close Windsor store

Independent department store Fenwick has confirmed that it is to close its Windsor store after 37 years in the town, after failing to find a new location after its lease had expired, while also adding that it is to open a new store in Bracknell that it set to open this autumn.

Chairman Mark Fenwick, said: “We have always seen Windsor as a perfect Fenwick town, where our particularly fashion orientated, specialist store offer would thrive. Unfortunately we were unable to find a suitable alternative location.”

Fenwick confirmed that consultation with employees at the Windsor store situated in King Edward Court has started and that all 40 employees would be offered alternative roles at the new 80,000 square foot store in Bracknell, which is approximately 10 miles away.

The Bracknell store, part of the Lexicon development, will create around 80 jobs, and will stock brands including Kate Spade, Michael Kors, Coach, Gant, Ralph Lauren, Max Mara, Armani and Hugo Boss, as well as a denim studio and shoe emporium. The store will also carry beauty, homewares, and toys, as well as a new restaurant concept from Fuego and bakery Mason and Rye.

The current Fenwick store in Bracknell will continue to operate as Bentalls Bracknell until the retailer transitions to the new site in the autumn.

Image: Artist impression of Bracknell Fenwick courtesy of Fenwick

Budget fashion retailer Primark is set to open its biggest UK store in December 2018 in Birmingham. The ‘megastore’ will span 160,000 square foot across four floors and will carry all of the retailer’s offering including women’s, men’s and children’s fashion, as well as footwear, accessories, lingerie, beauty and homeware.

Primark acquired the Birmingham Pavilions centre for a rumoured 60 million pounds in 2014 and its redevelopment plan to create its largest flagship store in the UK was approved in January 2016.

When the new store opens the fashion retailer will close its existing New Street store in Birmingham, however, it states that the larger store will relocate its staff as the flagship will employ around 800 people, up from 460 it currently employees.

The new Birmingham store will be slightly bigger than the chain’s current largest UK site, which is in Manchester, which spans across three floors of the former John Lewis building across to around 155,000 square foot.

The Primark opening will come just ahead of the company’s 50th anniversary, which debut in Dublin in 1969 under the Penneys name.

Why online retailers are heading to the high street

London - Online fashion retailers have set a precedence to adopt omnichannel strategies, accounting for 29.6 percent of all all online retailers taking up physical retail space in the UK.

According to global real estate service provider Savills, their latest report Retail Revolutions: From Digital to Physical shows pureplay brands are making the transition from online only to bricks and mortar retailing. These include Missguided opening its first store at Westfield in Stratford and brands Finery and Little Mistress opening concessions in department stores.

Online sales growth in the UK is expected to slow from 11.4 percent per annum between 2012 and 2016 to 4.8 percent by 2022. Howe ver, the firm states that it is not a case of online versus offline, but rather how the two platforms can work together to provide the best ‘total’ retail experience.

Consumer preferences at the core of retailing retailers

Marie Hickey, commercial research director at Savills, comments: “When it comes to fashion and homeware, the biggest driver of total retailing continues to be consumer preferences. In particular, the desire to touch and feel a product before purchase remains strong, meaning physical stores play an important role in driving both online and offline sales. Stores can also deliver convenience to customers, a key attraction of shopping online, in the form of click and collect services.”

True digitisation of experience will now be at the forefront of store evolution, says Savills, which to date has centred largely on hardware, such as providing iPads to allow shoppers to search for products online. The evolving focus is on creating integrated software solutions, which can provide the same personalised shopper experience in-store that consumers have become accustomed to online, and enhance the speed and ease of payment.

While the transition into physical retailing is positive news for the property sector, Savills also says that retailers are becoming more selective and measured in the size and location of their stores, which is likely to result in a strategic focus on major retail centres. For some, including Made.com and Sofa.com, stores are not only a way of selling products but an opportunity to showcase and promote the brand in key urban locations, giving them the greatest possible exposure.

Evolving store experiences will be digitized

Sean Gillies, head of UK retail at Savills, adds: “Despite increasing recognition of a physical store’s role in raising brand awareness and revenues, this is unlikely to lead to a flurry of national requirements from pureplay retailers making the transition to bricks and mortar. The most significant impact on retail property will instead come from digitisation of the in-store experience, as mobile payment, customer recognition technology, live inventory tracking and monitoring shopper engagement with products become the norm. The concept of stores remains very much alive and well, though their appearance and the activities that take place within them will continue to evolve.”

Credits: Photo; Savills, source: Savills report: Retail Revolutions, From Digital to Physical

A new era for stores: Retail trends from Milan Design Week

Retail stores will no longer have merchandise in full view on hanging rails or on shelves, but concept stores will aim to offer the best possible shopping experience with the use of technological support and home delivery in order to realise ever greater integration between online and offline sales. These are the retail trends which emerged during the Milan Design Week, which took place in the Italian fashion capital from 3rd to 9th April.

The concept store selects stimuli and products from other sectors, as the godfather of denim, Adriano Goldschmied, explained to FashionUnited a few weeks ago: “I’m working on a small store concept where customers can find top products. I don’t believe in the total look, as doing everything well is mission impossible. This is why I decided to solely concentrate on denim since the end of the 1980’s.”

A new era for stores: Retail trends from Milan Design Week

Physical shops and online showcases are now increasingly integrated

The seminar organised by Elle Decor and Altagamma, the association which brings together the luxury goods elite, highlighted that living trends and retail distribution are merging, with the showroom becoming the ‘theatre’, where the biography of the products on display are recounted, whilst the digital elements expand, support and amaze the customer.

Francesco Morace, Chairman of Future Concept Lab, proposed a new consumption scenario, based on the extension of the comfort concept, allowing the consumer to feel at ease, to be recognised and feel gratified. From the pure and simple perception of individual comfort, we move onto a full quality of life experience. In essence, we are a long way from the time when acquiring selling spaces to witness a boost in revenues was sufficient. "The era of easy growth created by new spaces and price increases is over. Shops are no longer a display of dimensions and materials, but a way for brands to express and confirm their own values and uniqueness,” according to the key trend emerging from Fondazione Altagamma’s Retail evolution study conducted by Luca Solca from Exane Paribas.

A new era for stores: Retail trends from Milan Design Week

According to Remo Ruffini, Chairman of Moncler, we are moving towards a differentiated retail strategy by country, with a different purchasing experience in every city. “The purchasing process is multichannel, fast and digitally friendly,” which means we must take the new generations born with a smartphone in their hands into account. For instance, Julipet, an underwear/lingerie brand utilised this approach by launching its first store in the fashion quarter during the Milan Design Week. “We decided to consider Julipet as a start-up and that even the cash desk in the store would revolve around e-commerce. There’s a high degree of integration between online and offline, for us, sales take place through a single channel which merges web and offline,” explains Clemente Germanetti, the brand’s Manager.

The store features a floor covered by vicuna rugs, eco-leathers on the walls, cream shelves and bronze wall panelling finished off with “pink gold” displays and a movable counter which also serves as a cash desk. All of this is illuminated by a selection of LED lights. The external showcase is a captivating display of lights, “opens” the space within the store and invites customers to enter, with a big video wall opposite the entrance becoming the focus point, telling the world all about Julipet, alongside an installation of a man in pyjamas by the artist Nando Cripps.

If digital is indeed an essential element for the physical store, references to the world of art and to the inspiration which drives sculptors, photographers and painters, is a trend at sales points. Frankie Morello hosted an exclusive installation during the Salone del mobile furniture trade fair, in collaboration with LondonArt, the UK's largest online gallery of contemporary art, to showcase its “rebirth” collection within its flagship store in Corso Venezia.

A new era for stores: Retail trends from Milan Design Week

Brooks Brothers resurrected the display cases in their own Flatiron store, a 1937 square foot space spanning over two floors in the heart of the Milan Brera district, with new design objects, created by reusing shapes and materials deployed in the installations. This is the first time the Circular Design concept has been applied in the world of retail and luxury goods, with designer Andrea Favoni, Art Director at Marangoni Design and author of this first edition of Circular Design, looking to complement the Brooks Brothers collection with a double helix, using linen as an accessory element on the furnishings. Designer Paola Lenti executed exclusive versions of several products in the collection at the La Tenda store in Via Solferino, combined with vintage pieces in a creative game of contamination, inspired by the colours of the island of Cuba, burnt by time but still brilliant. Moving from the hottest yellow to the deepest red, from the nuances of turquoise which shift from green to blue, the designer has recreated a sunlit environment which is serene, free and full of life.

A new era for stores: Retail trends from Milan Design Week

Aspesi marries arte povera

Arte povera, the contemporary art movement which literally means ‘poor art’, is the protagonist of Aspesi’s store, a label recently acquired by Italian private equity firm Armònia sgr, which decided to display a single work in its showcase in via Montenapoleone by one of the leading exponents of this movement, Mario Merz. Arte povera was born in Italy during the second half of the 1960’s in an open polemic with traditional art, whose techniques and media it rejected in order to specifically draw on ‘poor’ materials, such as earth, wood, iron, rags, plastic and industrial scraps, with the intention of evoking the original structures of the language of contemporary society after having corroded its habits and semantic conformisms. “I am very happy to be able to offer a broad and heterogeneous off-salon audience the opportunity to admire this work. Alberto Aspesi has always appreciated and been involved in the art world, with a distinct preference for arte povera, well represented here by Merz’ work. The iconic concept of essentiality is indeed an element it has in common with the brand’s collection style,” said Fabio Gnocchi, Managing Director of Aspesi.

In conjunction with the Salone del mobile of Milan, Massimo Dutti entrusted the decoration of its flagship store in Corso Vittorio Emanuele to one of the best artists, Rossana Orlandi. Inditex invited the Milanese artist, who won the latest edition of the magazine Ad’s prize, to embellish the showcases of its Milan store with works by artists derived from its gallery. The specific artistic project which the gallery owner organised for the showcase of the store included a selection of iconic pieces, such as Damiano Spelta and Nika Zupanc’s armchairs and a large-scale graphic portrait of Rossana Orlandi. As a further tribute to Orlandi, there was no shortage of dummies of the iconic spectacles, which identify the owner of the gallery.

Originally published by Isabella Naef for FashionUnited Italy

Foto: Julipet press office, FashionUnited, Massimo Dutti press office, Frankie Morello press office, Brooks Brothers press office

Paul&Shark opens first UK store

Italian lifestyle and fashion brand Paul&Shark is to open its first UK store at St James’s Market, Regent Street, London today, April 27.

The London flagship spans 2,000 square foot and houses the brand’s men’s and women’s collections across its sportswear, smart casual and luxury lines.

The store is located in a Grade II-listed building that has been restored as part of a joint venture between The Crown Estate and Oxford Properties with the interior combining classic Italian elegance with modern elements, said the brand, with a large open space teamed with minimal soft furnishings to allow customers to “feel at ease”.

Paul&Shark opens first UK store

A focal point of the store is the feature wall of digital screens that aims to provide an ever-changing backdrop, showcasing the brand’s content and concealing two fitting rooms and a customer service area.

In addition, the flagship features bespoke fixtures in polished stainless steel to complement the modernity of the space along with plinths and shelving in the same steel blue used on luxury yachts, in tribute to the brand’s heritage.

Paul&Shark opens first UK store

Paul&Shark has more than 250 stores across 73 countries including in Milan, Paris, New York, Beverly Hills and Shanghai.

Images: courtesy of Paul&Shark

Amazon launches new local-weather personalised shopping service

Amazon has launched a new personalised shopping service which is set to offer products to shoppers based on their local weather conditions.

The new service, which launched on Tuesday and is part of Amazon's #NowItsSummer campaign, focuses on offering useful and fun products depending on weather conditions - such as sun cream, sunglasses and bathing suits on a sunny day and umbrellas, anoraks and rain boots on a rainy day. The service was developed by Amazon based on previous seasonal sales research. It uses new technology which studies weather data as part of an algorithm to suggest weather appropriate items based on the consumers current location.

The online retail giant hopes the new service will help them better understand when British consumers start making their summer purchases. In the past, the majority of British shoppers hold off on buying summer-related products, such as flip-flops and sunglasses until the first Sunday of June, which is three days after the official start of British summertime.

Photo: Amazon new personalised shopping weather service

Luxury spenders defy Japan's tight-fisted reputation

Tight-fisted shoppers, unsteady economic growth and a shrinking population: Japan doesn't exactly fit the image of a spending powerhouse these days. But you would never know it in Ginza -- Tokyo's answer to the Champs-Elysees or Fifth Avenue -- where a new 13-storey upscale mall is proving that Japan is still a whale in the luxury business.

The country logs some 22.7 billion dollars in annual spending on top-end goods made by brands including Chanel, Dior, and Prada, ranking it as the world's number two luxury market behind the United States. "Luxury products may be more expensive, but they are very well-made," said 79-year-old Toshiko Obu, carrying her longtime Fendi bag outside the Ginza Six building, which has been drawing big crowds since last week's opening.

Japan is renowned among the world's priciest retailers for its discriminating clientele -- Chanel tries to keep local customers physically separated from tourists packing more cash than class. "You shouldn't forget that a big portion of the luxury clientele is here in Japan," Sidney Toledano, chairman and CEO of Christian Dior Couture, told AFP at the opening of the 241-store building. "It remains a strategic market for luxury and, I'd say, true luxury."

'Biting their fingernails'

Dior is counting on Japan's luxury market to rise this year, while rival Chanel is also expecting an upbeat 2017, after global sales of personal luxury goods barely grew last year. "We did not lose our character," said Richard Collasse, head of Chanel in Japan. "There are brands that are suffering -- the ones that at some stage stopped investing in Japan because China was the new El Dorado. And today they are biting their fingernails.",

Few brands predicted that deep-pocketed Chinese shoppers visiting Japan would support its luxury market -- tourists account for about one-third of top-end spending. Japan is hoping to land 40 million visitors in 2020, the year that Tokyo hosts the Olympics. Last year, some six million Chinese visited, compared with 2.4 million in 2014.

"Historically, (Japan has) been a very insular luxury market where 90 to 95 percent of the spending was by locals," said Joėlle de Montgolfier, Paris-based director of consumer and luxury product research at consultancy Bain & Company. But now some 30 percent of sales are generated by foreign visitors owing to tourism, she added.

A stronger yen dented visitors' purchasing power last year, with luxury sales down one percent, after a 9.0 percent rise in 2015. Dior's Toledano said it is an opportunity to refocus on Japanese clientele. "We don't ignore tourists, of course, but we're not a duty-free shop," he added.

'Touching everything'

Some other Chanel shops in Tokyo have a separate cosmetics and perfume section reserved for top Japanese customers, in a bid to keep them away from the nouveau riche crowd. It also tips off local clientele about the expected arrival time of tourist buses so they can avoid them.

"The loyal Japanese clients tend to run away from customers who were not very well raised and are wearing whatever or lying all over the sofa, touching everything," said Chanel's Collasse. Dior's haute couture show at the new mall's opening featured Japanese-inspired dresses, underscoring a focus on the local market. But warning signs lurk behind smiling clerks and glitzy interiors at the new property on one of the world's priciest shopping streets.

Japan has struggled to reverse a decades-long economic slump while a falling population continues to shrink its labour force -- and the pool of future luxury consumers.

Younger people, many on tenuous work contracts, don't have the money or the same interest in luxury brands anymore, especially since top-end goods can now be rented online instead, said Naoko Kuga, a consumer lifestyle analyst at Tokyo's NLI Research Institute. "When you look at consumer purchasing behaviour, younger people put less value on luxury brand products" than previous generations, she said. (AFP)

Photo: The Dior flagship boutique in the upscale Ginza shopping district of Tokyo. Credit: By Christopher Mann McKay, via WikimediaCommons, Attribution 2.5 Generic (CC BY 2.5)

The retail apocalypse

The retail landscape is changing at such a speed brands are evidently failing to keep up. Perhaps that is why in the US in the first three months of 2017 there were nearly three thousand shop closures. That is nearly triple the 1,153 store closures that occurred in the same period in 2016.

Retail bankruptcies, deathly quiet shopping malls, deserted high streets and shrinking store portfolios could almost make you think retailers are on the verge of extinction or a retail apocalypse.

And this is not just occurring in America. Around the world consumer spending is shifting to that of experience. Buying clothes is no longer a priority. Fast fashion fixes for goods we don't need have been replaced with experiences that bring a different type of satisfaction. Traveling, eating out and socialising have become priority purchases for millenials and generation z.

The retail apocalypse

Like fashion, retailers are being forced to reinvent themselves

Retailers are therefore forced to reinvent themselves and the reality of the in-store environment is changing to incorporate a new shopping experience. The traditional brick and mortar business is becoming obsolete.

Retailers like Farfetch are setting a new precedent. Their first physical store is much more than a shop - it is a retail platform that uses customers' online purchase history to inform shop clerks.

Other examples of innovative retail experiences include in-store customization, like 3D printing , a service offered at Ministry of Supply in Boston. Nike is now operating stores that have football fields and basketball courts on their premises.

Amazon, too, remains one of the most innovative companies on the retail landscape. The internet has changed the way we buy everything from clothing to automobiles to holidays, but what started as an online platform for selling books has morphed into a company that can deliver a box directly to your doorstep, rethinking logistics as we know it. Their new store fronts are check out free, with all purchases being registered by an app in your phone.

Ecommerce is no replacement for the experience of shopping in store, touching a product and being able to try before you buy. People still prefer to shop in stores, but stores are failing to meet consumer demands and rival the online experience.

The retail apocalypse, source Quartz, photo credit: www.theatlandtic.com, Farfetch store of the future