Ralph Lauren opened 135 locations in fiscal 2019
Ralph Lauren CEO Patrice Louvet has outlined the American company's priorities moving forward following the release of its financial results for fiscal 2019, highlighting efforts to develop the group's brick-and-mortar retail network and digital channels through upselling and improvements in customer experience. The executive also referred to the fact that, in fiscal 2019, the company opened 135 new stores and concessions, and closed 85 boutiques.
Of the 135 new locations, 94 were opened in Asia, with 39 opened in China alone, one of the company's fastest growing markets. In fiscal 2019, Ralph Lauren's sales in the country increased 20% in constant currencies and now account for 3.5% of the company's total global revenue.
In Europe, the group opened four boutiques and two outlets. " We are still significantly underpenetrated at brick-and-mortar retail, with only 23-owned full price stores across Europe, and we continue to see a meaningful long-term opportunity to build out our ecosystem strategy in the region," said Louvet. "Overall in fiscal '19 we track slightly behind our annual store openings target, as we remain highly selective on real estate locations to ensure that they elevate the brand and meet our profitability targets."
Reflecting a strategy currently being implemented by many its competitors, the group also identified its digital channels as a major priority for development. During fiscal 2019, Ralph Lauren's online sales, both through its own channels and those of its partners, increased 11% compared to the prior year, with particular progress seen internationally.
Since the close of the fourth quarter of 2019, which ended in March, the group has signed deals with a range of different specialized commercial partners, notably Ssense.com in North America and Slamjamsocialism.com in Italy, two platforms that mix arty fashion collections with editorials, designer brands and streetwear. The group has also teamed up with Kickz.com, the youngest site to be brought on board as a partner.
In Asia, Ralph Lauren has reinforced its presence on WeChat in China and has also struck deals with exclusive and selective retailers in Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong. "While encouraged by our digital commerce momentum we see opportunities to accelerate growth of our total digital ecosystem and gain share. For example, by better leveraging our experience and assets in brand building and presentation from our own digital flagship we can apply our best practices with those of our partners," explained Louvet.
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