Established forty years ago, Giordano is one of the most well-established apparel retailers in the Asia-Pacific region and its commitment to superior service and outstanding quality has enabled the company to grow multiple brands. Here, RLI sits down with Mark Loynd, Executive Director and Head of Overseas Market Development to discuss the brand values and its expansion plans.
The essence of Giordano is to provide relevant, essential and timeless fashion for all across its umbrella of brands, Giordano, Giordano Ladies, Giordano Women, Giordano Junior, G-Motion, Beau Monde and BSX. The brand currently operates over 2,000 stores globally and their shops are predominantly situated in the Asia-Pacific region as well as the Middle East, along with shops in South Asia and Africa.
When discussing Covid-19, Loynd explains that they prepared very early on in anticipation of the challenges that the pandemic may bring to the company, including changes to customer shopping behaviour and possible disruption to supply chain and logistics networks.
“These strategies were designed to help navigate us through the challenging situations Covid-19 presented. These included a redistribution of resources, with added focus on our proprietary and third party e-commerce business, as well as our ongoing overseas business development strategy in emerging markets,” explains Mark Loynd, Executive Director and Head of Overseas Market Development for Giordano, based in Hong Kong. “In essence, we aim to reinforce our existing major markets in Greater China, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, while forging ahead with our online strategy and expanding our footprint geographically into new markets.”
Africa and Central Asia remain very exciting markets for Giordano after the recent opening of their seventh store in Mauritius in the prime location of Plaisance Shopping Village, no mean feat when you consider they only celebrated the launch of the first store there at the end of 2019 and most of the expansion took place during the pandemic.
Also launched was the brands first standalone Giordano store in City Mall, Mombasa – the previous three stores in Kenya were part of their franchisee’s multi-brand offering. Giordano Ghana also recently celebrated the opening of its first store at the extensive Melcom Plus in Accra, with several more in the pipeline.
“We also signed our first franchise agreement for Uzbekistan, which we hope will mark the beginning of our journey across Central Asia. We are also currently engaged in discussions with partners to explore other market across northern Africa,” explains Loynd.
With such a strong brand across international markets they continue to innovate by taking a two-pronged approach. On the one hand, they insist on staying true to their DNA – offering timeless and affordable pieces which exude fine quality, comfort and style – while on the other hand they continue to develop through crafting new lines of apparel that are both relevant and functional to the times that we are living in.
When discussing customer loyalty and key drivers behind the brand’s success to date, Loynd comments that they have built and continue to build customer loyalty by maintaining the soul of the Giordano brand. “The essence of Giordano is to develop apparel for people from all walks of life regardless of ethnicity, nationality or culture, truly illustrating our brand value ‘World Without Strangers’.”
The company has always prided itself on its product quality and its customer service. Their passion and dedication in this respect is personified by its excellent shop staff around the world. It is this human touch that makes Giordano more of a trusted, reliable friend rather than just an outlet for brand image and product.
“I think this has become all the more important during the pandemic. Customers are generally more grounded, paying more attention to functionality, quality and simplicity. They also want brands they shop from to be organic, to have a background or a history – that is exactly what we are, and we make it easy for them to understand that,” says Loynd.
Utilising the power of social media, the brands focus has been the customer experience online – usability, interaction – the actual online experience as well as accessibility and convenience by developing the number of platforms they use.
As for their approach to influencers, this is slightly more nuanced. While the business does engage influencers, the strategy varies between different regions. In markets such as the UAE and South Korea, where Giordano commands a premium brand position, they do work with celebrities, but remain selective about who they approach and prefer influencers that are genuine users or experts in their field. An example Loynd explains is their ‘G-Motion’ athleisure and performance wear offering. They engage professional personal trainers as influencers as not only can they give credence to the functionality and comfort of the apparel, they can also provide the brand with valuable recommendations on product development as genuine users of the products.
With one eye on the future, Loynd feels that the pandemic will continue to wreak havoc on global markets in the immediate future, which in turn will pose challenges for the global retail industry in the coming years. However he feels there is positivity to be found as well. “For a brand to stay ahead, it needs to continuously innovate, bring in product development, engage with customers, use technology to bring in change and provide value at all times. These challenges will also throw out opportunities to the discerning retailer who is flexible and willing to adapt to changes.”