As our latest earnings report shows, the retail scene in Europe for Levi Strauss & Co. is hotter than its ever been.
Jeremy Leaf, VP Retail Europe, and Stefan Otte, VP Global Real Estate & Partner Retail, gave us some insights and perspective on the extraordinary retail development in Europe.
How was fiscal year 2018 for retail in Europe?
Jeremy: If we look at the results in Europe, we had a tremendous year, ending with double-digit growth. And that was consistent across channels and business models.
How do you explain that terrific growth?
J: We developed our retail network at an unbelievable rhythm. Between 2015 and 2018, we have opened 258 stores. If we take a closer look, we opened 71 new stores in 2018 alone, which is more than one store a week! On top of those new store openings, we also did shop-in-shops (Levi’s® shops housed within larger locations like department stores), refits (refurbishing or renovation of current locations), and relocation of stores, totaling 153 retail projects in one year! The team did an extraordinary job, working hard, being passionate and focusing on every single project being delivered on time and budget. However, store openings were the not the only driver – comp sales in existing stores were also up by double digits, driven by great products and the store teams focusing on the consumer.
Stefan, what were the most important projects among all those stores?
Stefan: All of our store openings were special, and we’ve put the same passion in all of our projects. Nevertheless, I would like to highlight some really great achievements.
In Barcelona, Spain we had two important openings in key locations: the new Dockers® store inside the Diagonal Mar shopping center, and the New Paseo de Gracia Levi’s® store opening next to Gaudi’s Casa Batllo, the stunning and historic museum.
We also had the opening of stores addressing specific consumers: two new Women’s stores, one in Paris in the famous Le Marais area, and one in London (Bluewater), only the second and third of their kind in Europe today, so quite special. And we also opened the first two GenZ stores in the Netherlands.
And last but not least, we also did a complete remodeling of our London Flagship Store on Regent Street.
As you can see, there truly are quite a mix of achievements in our key countries, though obviously all of our stores are important and play an important part in our store portfolio.
Would you add anything else that may have led to these latest business results?
Stefan: Definitely our retail expansion was key to us generating business growth, but I also believe that our focus on enhancing the in-store consumer experience through omnichannel technology updates:
- 24/7 CRM/loyalty App is now live in nine countries. The app allows consumers to interact with the brand and gain credits to be redeemed in stores at a later date.
- Our RFID tech is now live in six stores and rollout continues.
- Associate Order in Store Live in three countries. The functionality allows stylists to help a consumer order a product online if it is not in store (say, if the right size is not available or the consumer would like a different version of the product).
Jeremy, with such an amazing 2018, what are your priorities for 2019?
Jeremy: The key priority is to continue driving the store performance across the top and bottom lines whilst we continue our expansion and the upgrade of our store portfolio. The omnichannel implementation, which really took off in 2018, will be a material driver for 2019 and beyond so it’s vital these elements are embedded in the store processes seamlessly. And last but not least, developing our teams so they can continue to provide an excellent experience for our consumers, who are the heart of why we are here. The bar is forever being raised.