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Fabletics targeting European expansion following London store opening

By Danielle Wightman-Stone

14 Dec 2021

Retail |Interview

Image: Fabletics; Fabletics London store by Philip Panting

Fabletics, the activewear brand co-founded by actress Kate Hudson, Adam Goldenberg and Don Ressler with an all-digital approach, is doubling down on brick-and-mortar retail expansion in Europe, following openings across the US, in Berlin, and most recently London.

Currently, Fabletics has 72 stores, the majority of which are across the US, with two in Europe. The first European flagship opened in Berlin, Germany in October 2021, followed by an “experimental pop-up” on London’s Regent Street at the end of November, which will be open until the end of 2022.

In an interview with Gerrit Müller, president international for the TechStyle Fashion Group, which owns Fabletics, he stated that the activewear brand’s physical retail is “here to stay” in the UK, as it is the biggest European market for the brand, and makes for the perfect testing ground.

The central London store spans around 2,400 square feet across two floors and offers Fabletics size-inclusive ranges across its women and men’s collections, highlighting its active-lifewear pieces from its core collection of leggings, its new cold weather essentials, outerwear, and loungewear.

Image: Fabletics; Fabletics London store by Philip Panting

The retail space has also been designed to integrate with the brand’s digital roots with a technology-driven approach to offer a seamless omnichannel experience, utilising the brand’s Omnisuite and Omnishop technology, customers and Fabletics VIP members can request a different size or colour, check stock, and engage in styling tips, all without leaving the fitting room.

In addition, touchscreens with a style quiz are displayed throughout the stores to help customers decide which styles best suit their needs and preferences, while iPod-based POS systems allow Fabletics associates to help customers shop the website and arrange for products to be delivered directly to the customer’s doorstep.

Interview with Gerrit Müller, president international for the TechStyle Fashion Group

To discuss why Fabletics opted for London as its second European location, its permanent plans for the brand in the UK, and its omnichannel approach, FashionUnited caught up with Gerrit Müller over e-mail.

Image: Fabletics; Fabletics London store by Philip Panting

Why was London chosen as the next retail store location in Europe?

Regent Street is a prime location for UK shoppers, and we wanted to create the best in-person experience possible. By catering to where the shoppers already are, we’re making it easier for current VIPs and new guests to find us.

The store is temporary - what are your permanent retail plans for Fabletics in the UK?

It is safe to say that Fabletics retail is here to stay. We will focus the next 6 – 12 months really learning, developing and optimising our retail store concept. There is no better place to learn from and engage with our customers than on one of the busiest and most prestigious shopping destinations globally – Regent Street.

We want to be confident that we are providing our members with the best possible experience and are eager to understand any differences we might encounter in Europe. We are planning to expand our retail footprint in the UK in 2022 and beyond.

Has Brexit had an impact on Fabletics?

Fortunately, Brexit has had no impact on the customer-facing side of the Fabletics business. The UK continues to be our strongest market in Europe, and we have seen growth continue pre and post Brexit.

From a business efficiency perspective, Brexit has been challenging as customs and shipping processes have become a lot more complex. At Fabletics, we have been able to overcome the challenge and even turn it into a customer experience improvement by opening up our second European warehouse outside of London. This not only enabled us to react to the new post-Brexit world but had the added benefit that shipping times to customers decreased significantly leading to even happier VIP members.

Image: Fabletics; Fabletics London store by Philip Panting

Why is physical retail important for Fabletics?

Fabletics is continuing to double down on stores and expand our investment in brick and mortar retail. We are continuing to evolve our omnichannel offerings to create efficiencies and seamless experiences from in-store to online. All locations are equipped with our proprietary OmniSuite technology that allows Fabletics VIP members to seamlessly enjoy their online benefits and perks at any of the brand’s retail locations, and the patent-pending OmniShop fitting room technology that digitises the entire experience enabling a simple try-on process and communication with retail associates via the tap of an in-fitting room iPad.

As a digitally native company, all our retail stores enhance the customer experience by providing shoppers with the opportunity to touch, feel and engage with products, while utilising technological enhancements to complete the experience.

Are there plans for more stores across the UK/Europe?

In addition to the store on Regent Street, we have also opened up a store in Berlin, Germany which is the second-largest market for Fabletics in Europe. By the end of 2021, we will be operating a fleet of 72 retail stores of which 70 are in the United States. Our goal is to follow a similar expansion trajectory for Europe.

Image: Fabletics; Fabletics London store by Philip Panting

Why was it important for the London store to offer an omnichannel experience?

Customer experience is extremely important when it comes to bridging the gap between online and in-store. All of Fabletics’ innovative omnichannel features have directly resulted from listening to the needs of our customers and working to accommodate a changing retail landscape.

This includes our recent “Buy Online, Pickup In-Store” offering (coming soon to Europe), increasing the use of touchless tech, and even our new Hydrow boutiques, where a customer can demo the rowing machine in-store. We are also proud to offer fun and engaging in-store events including fitness workouts and giveaways, which our community absolutely love. The Fabletics VIP membership is a true community experience, and our in-store offerings really enhance that relationship.

Image: Fabletics; Fabletics London store by Philip Panting

Fabletics recently launched menswear and loungewear categories – are there any other expansions planned for the brand?

We are currently really focussed on the expansion of men’s, as a completely new target audience, as well as expanding our categories through offerings like loungewear. The loungewear market is estimated to be worth 9.98 billion US dollars by 2027 according to a recent research report by Market Research Future, providing Fabletics with a massive opportunity for growth.

In 2022, we are staying laser-focused on ensuring that these expansions continue delivering the success we have seen in 2021.

Gerrit Müller