Retail SEE Group spoke to Manja Babović, Brand Development Director at Fashion Company, about their most recent projects and development plans for South East Europe.
With more than 100 stores across Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania and North Macedonia, Fashion Company is the regional leader in fashion retailing.
The Company’s portfolio consists of the world’s most famous brands such as Liu Jo, Replay, Calvin Klein, Steve Madden, Superdry and Tommy Hilfiger.
Its diverse offer is backed by years of experience and a passion for creating value for its partners and customers, which translates into new initiatives like the Fashion&Friends online platform.
From exciting store concepts to online shopping, Fashion Company is a trendsetter in both fashion and business. In this interview, we explore what it takes to build and mantain its retail success story.
What was 2018 like for Fashion Company in terms of market expansion?
In 2018, we embarked on a major expansion. We made our debut into the Romanian market and we now operate four stores in Bucharest. Aside from entering Romania, we opened dozens of stores across Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, and North Macedonia.
This trend of growth continued in 2019. Following our entry in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we added a total of 16 stores to our retail network in the region.
At present, Fashion Company operates more than 100 stores. We will continue investing in our development and expanding our presence in Serbia and the region.
What is your experience with Bosnia and Herzegovina as a new market for Fashion Company? Are you planning further expansion?
We are pleased with the results we have achieved in the past six months in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Most importantly, we are happy with the customers’ response to our offer of brands such as Guess, Replay, Calvin Klein, Superdry, Tommy Hilfiger and the Fashion&Friends multi-brand store concept.
As far as the expansion goes, our strategy is the same for all markets. We’re seeking the very best, premium locations for all the brands in our portfolio. In order to offer easy access to our customers, we operate stores within the busiest high streets and the biggest shopping centers in the region.
Tell us more about the Fashion&Friends online store. What markets do you cover and are there any plans to expand in the region?
Fashion Company is always in tune with what our customers' wants and needs. We’ve recognized the importance of online shopping and in 2018, we entered the world of e-commerce by launching fashionandfriends.rs.
This strategic project enabled us to expand the reach of the Fashion&Friends brand as well as to offer a faster and more interactive shopping experience, which is particularly important for the new generation of millennials.
The online store is currently available only in Serbia, with plans to expand e-commerce operations in other markets.
What are the latest additions to your brand portfolio and what are the key factors for successful brand partnerships?
We carefully select our brand partners, taking into account the criteria such as quality, design and innovation. We pride ourselves on partnering with companies that share our values and vision for the future.
Our fashion family comprises of more than 25 leading brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Replay, Guess, Diesel, Calvin Klein, Liu Jo, Levis, Timberland, Scotch&Soda, Desigual, Camper, Bata, and many others.
The newest brands in the portfolio are Moose Knuckles, Steve Madden, and Philippe Model - all favorites among the world’s fashion trendsetters. Through partnering with these brands, we raised the bar in the fashion offer in the region.
What marketing channels do you utilize and what are the best ways for retailers to connect with their audiences and customers?
Digital platforms have become the main source of information and are among the most efficient ways to communicate with our customers. We have a strong presence on social networks and use them to share relevant and engaging content - from presenting brands, collections and campaigns to special activities and company news.
As well as social media, we utilize traditional marketing channels with a focus on fashion and lifestyle magazines. At the end of the day, it’s all about creating the right combination of digital and offline media in line with the company’s strategy, objectives and our target audience.
What, in your opinion, are the greatest benefits of using influencer marketing?
Over the past years, we’ve formed partnerships with young, urban trendsetters who have a great fashion sense and a unique style. They present new fashion trends in an authentic way and serve as an inspiration for our company and their followers.
Their voices help us to tell compelling, memorable and original brand stores that resonate with our customers.
Fashion Company is recognized for its unique store design and brand identity. How important is this aspect of marketing for attracting customers?
All Fashion Company stores are designed according to the latest global standards set by our brand partners.
Customer experience is fundamental to everything we do. We seek to create an exciting environment and offer the very best experience that is similar to shopping in the world’s largest cities, such as Paris and London.
Creating interior concepts that achieve harmonization between different brands and their authentic styles in the retail space is one of the greatest pleasures and challenges of designing Fashion Company stores.
We follow the latest trends in industrial design. In our stores, we combine metal and glass with natural materials like wood and stone. We also integrate plant life to establish a connection with nature and create an enjoyable shopping environment.
Thanks to the highest standards in interior design, we received an accolade for the new Fashion&Friends multi-brand store concept at the 40th Salon of Architecture in Belgrade last year.
In-store technology is increasingly being used to reimagine and enhance the customer experience. Do you utilize technology in Fashion Company stores?
Yes, indeed. We follow trends in this segment, for example, we’ve switched from traditional in-store formats to technologies such as LED screens that enable us to display all types of content. We’re planning on adding other in-store technology innovations in our stores in the next year.
What countries in the region offer the best opportunities for the development of your retail network?
All countries where we currently do business have a strong potential, with opportunities for growth. We’re focused on maintaining our leading position in the region which is the result of a clear business strategy and a dedicated team. Through careful planning, we will continue to expand our presence in Serbia and the region.
What sets Fashion Company apart from its competitors?
There’s more to Fashion Company than meets the eye. The feeling of pride you experience from working with some of the world’s biggest fashion brands and talented team members who live and breathe retail.
Our aim is to offer an unforgettable shopping experience in all Fashion Company stores by putting the customer at the core of all business decisions.
We have a clearly defined mission, we dream big and we’re on the right path to achieve our goals.
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