July 28, 2014

Topshop Looks Toward Global Expansion

Topshop Looks Toward Global Expansion

WWD — Topshop is spreading its wings across the globe and expecting 2015 to be a landmark year for expansion.The company is getting an assist from model du jour Cara Delevingne. Topshop will today unveil its worldwide fall ad campaign that features Delevingne, and was shot in London by fashion photographer Alasdair McLellan.

The brand has also created a short film that promises to offer “insight” into the young model and actress, and it will premiere on topshop.com today.

“Although she’s only 21, she looks more grown up and sophisticated in the clothes — I love how she looks in the product,” Topshop’s owner Sir Philip Green told WWD. “She appeals to our core customer — and she ticks all the boxes for us.”

 Green added that he was “hopeful and confident that this will be the beginning of another strong relationship for Topshop.” Asked if there was a Kate Moss-style merchandise collaboration in the works, he said there was not.

The Delevingne campaign is just the beginning of what could well be a pivotal year for the brand.

Over the next nine months, Green, as reported, plans to open five new, wholly owned stores in the U.S., in San Diego, Houston, Atlanta, Washington and Manhattan, on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 49th Street. In addition, he plans to expand into Continental Europe, Hong Kong and Mainland China.

The uptown New York flagship will be the second-largest Topshop in the world after London, and is slated to open in early November. Green said it will be Topshop’s most important store opening in a long time.

The 40,000-square-foot corner flagship will offer all the latest collections from Topshop and Topman as well as exclusive ranges that are in development.

Earlier this year, Green said he would be investing $40 million to $50 million in building and fitting out all the new U.S. stores.

Talking about the U.S. market, Green said he’s happy “where we’re going. We’ve been learning for a while — and we’re still learning.” Earlier this year the company added human resources, press and finance, and has also hired a handful of American buyers.

There are plans, he said, to open a design and buying office on the West Coast so that Topshop can tap into local knowledge and hew closer to the American market’s needs.

“The winners are winners,” he said, referring to the merchandise on offer. Green added, however, that the company needs to manage challenges, such as providing the appropriate fabric weight for the various American regions.

He also said Topshop recently began increasing the frequency of its weekly drops at the 52 Nordstrom stores where it sells, and immediately saw “a significant improvement” in sales. “We’ve seen very, very good results very quickly. Shoppers want to buy new — they are looking for newness and for fashion. For us, the patterns are similar everywhere — your product needs to be first to market.”

Green, who in 2012 sold a 25 percent stake in Topshop and Topman to Leonard Green & Partners with the aim of accelerating the brands’ expansion into the U.S. market, declined to discuss growth figures.

Green is also looking far beyond the U.S. He plans to open the first wholly owned Continental European flagship in Amsterdam. The 16,000-square-foot flagship will open on the famous pedestrian-only Kalverstraat later this year.

“We’ve never been owners in Europe before, and we are looking at further retail opportunities [on the Continent],” Green said.

In addition, two further stores in Hong Kong are planned — one of them is the city’s first Topman — and there are openings set for Egypt, New Zealand and Panama.

Green will also be breaking into Mainland China this year, with plans to pilot an online business with Shangpin, the Beijing-based fashion and luxury Web site.

“These plans demonstrate our commitment both in the U.K. and globally for the Topshop and Topman brands, with one of our biggest years of expansion to date,” Green said. www.wwd.com