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Topshop opens debut EU flagship store ahead of expansion push

By Vivian Hendriksz


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Thursday, February 26 is a special day for British high street label Topshop - it marks the opening of the brand's debut European flagship store, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Located within the bustling shopping street de Kalverstraat, the 1,170 square meter store is the first of what could be many stand alone Topshop-Topman stores to open across Europe.

"The opportunity just came along for us to open a flagship store in Amsterdam, the store building was the first one to come along, so we just said 'let's go for it, it's right for us,’” explained Clare Drummond, senior international press manager for Topshop to FashionUnited, who was present for the debut store’s opening.

"The opportunity just came along for us to open a flagship store in Amsterdam"

Even though Topshop already has a series of concession stands present within departments store across France, Germany and the Netherlands, the high street label felt that the time was right to begin pursuing European expansion with the presence of it’s own stand alone stores. "I wouldn't say it was necessarily difficult for us to find a suitable building for our first flagship store here, we have scouts all over Europe looking for places all the time,” added Drummond.

The three storey floor is housed in the former bookstore de Slegte, with Topman occupying the basement and Topshop ranges including beauty, Boutique and Premium taking up the remaining two floors. The new store’s interior layout feels slightly wider, offering customers more space to browse the collections, whilst exposed brick walls have been whitewashed or covered with pale wooden panelling to reflect a clean, minimalistic feel.

"Everytime we go into a new market and we open a new store, it's always new. We are not like other high street retailers who say right this is what our store design looks like for the next year, no we always do something new and fresh, depending on the layout of the store and our customer journey.” The store’s interior is like, as the flagship store manager says: “The British Topshop style, with a Dutch twist.”

New flagship store: 'British Topshop style, with a Dutch Twist'

The debut flagship store also seems to highlight more of the range’s casual wear, which reflects the Dutch markets taste. “In Amsterdam, and in Holland in general, style wise it's a more casual market, with big denim lovers, so we gave our denim range more space here,” points out Drummond. “Boutique and Premium downstairs also has more space than other markets, so we really look at the market first and style our store layout accordingly. I would say for Amsterdam, this is the sort of store we want.”

Despite Amsterdam developing into a major denim hub, newcomer Topshop will most likely have to acquaint many customers with their extensive denim range, which price wise sits slightly higher than competing high street brands such as Forever 21 or Pull & Bear, but is justifiable to the brand due to their superior quality, fit and design.

“Topman is quite a casual buy as well,” adds Amy Moran, Topman PR manager. “There is a smaller area for suiting but we are hoping to grow that as well eventually and introduce it to Amsterdam a bit more. We also have a few exclusive items that were designed for our Amsterdam opening, a few hoodies and T-shirts with a subtle nod to the city."

This is not the first time that Topshop has designed an exclusive range in honor of a new store opening. When Topshop first opened its flagship store in Hong Kong, the label launched a range of beanies and T-shirts as well. “When we opened a big store in 5th Avenue, New York last November we placed an entire floor of suiting, because that is what our preferred West-Coast customer wants,” says Drummond. “We also did a few exclusives for the opening there too."

Topshop Amsterdam offers complimentary styling service

Another additional feature for the European flagship store is Topshop’s exclusive personal styling service, which is complimentary for anyone to use. The store currently has two full-time stylists for the new store, who have been hand picked and trained by their team back in London to help customers develop a full wardrobe, or pick an outfit for the night, whatever the occasion may be.

"Really, it's just meant to feel like a really special day for the customer, whether it's a mum taking her daughter shopping, or friends celebrating their birthdays, they can get cupcakes too, it's designed to be fun." Topshop aims to always have at least one stylist in-store at all times and customers are free to book appointment ahead of time or just approach a stylist on the shop floor when they need assistance. The service is another way Topshop aims to differentiate itself from other brands, whilst they plan their European expansion scheme.

“Although our main focus over the last couple of years has been the United States, it’s shifting now to Europe,” explains Drummond. “Last year we only had stores in Chicago, Las Vegas, New York and Los Angeles, but now we have another store in New York, in San Diego, Washington DC, Dallas, Houston and Atlanta. So we have doubled our stores there in the last year. But now our focus is Europe. Over the next two years we plan on opening stores in Germany, Belgium and France."

Topshop shifts expansion focus from United States to Europe

The high street label does not have any concrete plans as of yet when they will be opening more European stores, but would like to open stores in neighbouring Berlin, Hamburg and Cologne as well. “But the thing we have to keep in mind when we are looking for a suitable location for Topshop-Topman store is it has to be a building for a flagship store. It has to be able to accommodate both brands, which is the reason it's taken us a while to open our first store.”

“Let's say we were going to open a store in Berlin, then we would have to find a store that is big enough, more like our Oxford Circus flagship, where you can get cupcakes or frozen yoghurt, get your ears pierced or a tattoo, have your hair and makeup done - we love that. It’s very much part of our brand DNA, our concept, it's about offering a lifestyle experience in-store, which sets Topshop apart from other high street retailers as well. So that does make it difficult for us to find the right space that can give you that experience."

Prior to locating the space on de Kalverstraat, Topshop opened a 150 square meter concession stand within premium department store, De Bijenkorf, along with a 149 square meter Topman stand. The shop-in-shop will remain in Amsterdam however, as it is still an important selling point for the label, attracting many international visitors as well as local customers.

Topshop aims to offer customers the complete "lifestyle experience in-store"

The question remains, does Topshop plan on opening any more stores in the Netherlands? "For the moment we just want to see how this store in Amsterdam does before opening any other stores in the Netherlands,” states Drummond. “The focus is now on other European cities at the moment. But you never know what could happen in the future."

Flagship Store