La Boutique Officielle's European ambitions
Active in France for fifteen years, La Boutique Officielle has become a strong player in streetwear and hip-hop fashion in its home country. In 2022, the online sales platform claims a turnover of 87 million euros for its financial year ending at the end of March, with several thousands of products sent out each month and no less than 300 partner brands listed. A specialist in men's ready-to-wear clothing targeting the 15-25 year olds, which now has European growth ambitions.
After making a name for itself by selling the labels of French rappers such as Kery James, La Fouine, Rohff and Booba, the platform was able to attract international brands. The platform's success at the time was due as much to the specificity of its offer as to its logistical expertise and its ability to deliver quality service in a market segment often criticised for its organisational problems. In fact, other players, interested in this consumer target, approached La Boutique Officielle. The platform's offer includes more and more textile labels linked to rap culture, but also international players such as Adidas or Puma, which were not as powerful at the time as they are today, or brands such as G-Star or Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein.
Even if La Boutique Officielle has densified its sneaker and accessory offer, the platform still has the particularity of proposing some 70% of textile products and remains very focused on its young consumer clientele. This approach has enabled it to establish itself in France in a market contested by major international players.
This success attracted investors as early as 2015, with Time for Growth, Azulis Capital, Cadipa and Showcase taking a stake. In 2020, a new round of financing saw the Luxembourg investment fund BIP Capital Partners take a significant stake, and Arkéa Capital and BNP Paribas Développement also joined the capital. Management remains discreet about the exact distribution of capital, but this contribution has enabled the structure to expand over the last two years.
Benefiting from recognition in its home market and a strong streetwear trend during the first months of the Covid-19 pandemic, La Boutique Officielle has seen double-digit sales growth in recent years. In 2019, its turnover was €50 million. "In 2020 and 2021, the period allowed us to recruit many new customers," analyses Julien Cohen. "And as we were resilient on the logistics side, we forged partnerships with brands. But one of the key aspects of our approach is that we have always focused on profitability. The race for turnover is not our philosophy. And we've had very healthy growth." The company has had an operating profitability above 15% in recent years and claims to sell 56% of its products at full price. It also highlights the fact that it has not tried the marketplace model.
"We defend this point," says Cohen. "We value the partnership with the brands and the fact that they know which customers they are dealing with. By switching to the marketplace, some platforms have seen their turnover soar with the increase in references. But we have also seen players lose their identity. We didn't want to betray the brand message with a less controlled offer."
The company, based in western Lyon, currently does 95% of its business in France, overseas France and French-speaking countries. However, it has great ambitions for expansion, particularly due to investments of several million euros in technology and logistics in recent years. In particular, it has installed an Autostore, a digitalised, vertical warehouse system with 49 robots. It also explains that it has adapted its platform for smartphones, where it now makes 85% of its sales, with 42% of its turnover generated via its application. With its strong developments and momentum, which should enable La Boutique Officielle to reach the €100 million mark for the 2024-2025 financial year, the directors want to duplicate the model on new markets.
In February, the platform will launch in three new countries. For this export venture, the company has chosen to develop its platform and application under the name Ryses, which sounds more international than La Boutique Officielle. Its offer will be launched in Italy and the Iberian Peninsula. Firstly, because its 40,000 streetwear references, influenced by French culture, can be consistent with these Mediterranean markets. Secondly, because major e-commerce players already dominate the market in Great Britain and in German-speaking countries. But in the medium term, the management and its shareholder funds are aiming for a deployment on new markets.
This is also why the company has recruited marketing and logistics teams dedicated to its target countries in order to provide a service dedicated to these new markets. "Ryses' performance on the new markets will be a bonus," says Cohen.
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