Founded in Rome in 1991, the affordable Italian womenswear fashion brand began its global expansion in 2008 and can already be found in 24 international markets. And now it is setting its sights on new emerging countries.
Of List’s 45 stores, around half are in Italy, and all the stores abroad are franchised.
Somogyiova says: “International expansion so far has focused on the Middle East, especially the Gulf Cooperation Council, which has been a top strategic priority, and in european countries including Portugal, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Cyprus and Bulgaria
“We are now looking at China and Hong Kong as a priority and once we identify the right local partner our medium-term plan would be to open 25-35 stores in Greater China, starting with the roll-out in 2011/12.”
At present, List has also piloted a shop-in-shop format in Singapore and is very satisfied with the performance so far.
Somogyiova added: “In terms of future store openings in the People’s Republic of China, we would very much like to begin with either Shanghai or Beijing but we understand it takes patience and good instincts to launch flagship stores in these locations. Our choice of the first store will depend on the opportunities that present themselves.
“Our unique strength is that we are a company that can implement plans very quickly when we have the right development strategy and the right partnerships secured.”
List is also looking at three more openings in March/April 2011 in Kuala Lumpur and Dubai, and has begun negotiations to enter other emerging markets, including Turkey, Russia and Philippines.
The company is also interested in entering India, Kazakhstan and North Africa but understands that the most important component will be the partner - due to the dynamism of its business model, List partners with local retailers to leverage List’s brand know-how on the one hand and partner’s market expertise on the other.
“If you approach a market with a partner that is not skilled enough or not robust enough to carry it forward, you run the risk of entering and exiting very quickly,” Somogyiova said.
“We have been waiting to expand internationally for 18 years so we are going to do everything right.”
Despite its expansions plans, List is hesitant to tackle the UK and US at present.
“The UK is a hugely exciting market for List because in the segment we would go to occupy – trendy Italian fashion at great prices – there is so little competition, and we have the added advantage of uniquely strong Cocktail collections,” she says. “What I see as a possible barrier to entry is how expensive the market is, and how consolidated and saturated the retail real estate market has become.
For the full article, please see the February 2011 issue.