Hunkemöller plots UK stores as firm plans aggressive expansion globally
Just a few months after saying it had no plans to re-open UK stores, Dutch lingerie giant Hunkemöller has said it is now planning to open bricks and mortar locations in Britain and is mulling various options, including a potential store on London's premier shopping thoroughfare, Oxford Street.
CEO Philip Mountford said the company is looking at London and will take a store when the right opportunity arises, adding that he sees major opportunities in the UK as the brand fits neatly in a niche between M&S and Victoria’s Secret. An opening might not happen until later next year but it could be earlier if the right site becomes available.
Its UK plans come as the company is also rolling out its spin-off HKMX label further in Europe. Its first move into a separate brand sees it with ambitious plans for standalone stores. In the past two years the HKMX label has grown steadily and saw turnover of €20m in 2016. The company currently has three standalones for the brand after opening the first HKMX Sportswear Store in Berlin at the weekend. Mountford said the long-term vision is to open 50 stores in the next five years.
The company, which has signed Doutzen Kroes as its brand ambassador, only directly re-entered the UK market with its flagship Hunkemöller label late last year as it opened a dedicated UK website. It had previously only been available via its global website and via Zalando. The UK has seemed to be a low priority after a test of a physical presence in 2011 appeared to have failed. It had opened a trial concession in House of Fraser six years ago with plans for more concessions but later quit the market altogether.
At the time of the dedicated UK e-store launch last year, Mountford said the firm’s online business was growing 53% annually on a like-for-like basis with the overall business growing 6% like-for-like.
Mountford also said that he doesn’t believe Hunkemöller’s low awareness in Britain would be an issue. He said the company would market the brand heavily in the UK and would buy Google adverts as well as running marketing events. It would also link with other retailers. And he added in an interview that “the UK is starved of fashionable product across a broad spectrum of sizes.”
The 130-year-old company, which currently has 900 stores globally, in in the middle of a major expansion drive, having quadrupled its sales during this decade alone. It sees the UK market, which is dominated by retailers like M&S and assorted department stores, as ripe for growth. That belief must be a worry for the trio of retailers going through turnarounds (M&S, Debenhams, and House of Fraser) as well as for lingerie specialists like Boux Avenue.
But Hunkemöller’s expansion plans must also be worrying lingerie retailers globally. It is opening stores at a steady rate as well as adding to its online availability in many markets.
Only last month it joined Tata Group’s e-commerce platform TataCliq, making a large number of styles available there to Indian shoppers with items being shipped directly from its three physical stores in Mumbai. Hunkemöller earlier entered India through a franchise agreement with Reliance Brands.
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