GERRY WEBER International AG, based in Halle/Westphalia is a globally operating fashion and lifestyle group that is one of the largest fashion groups in Germany. In this interview, we speak with the current COO and designated CEO Angelika Schindler-Obenhaus about how the company has evolved and what it has planned for the future.
The group unites three strong brand families under one roof: GERRY WEBER, TAIFUN and SAMOON. Each brands stand for high-quality and trend-oriented fashion as well as accessories for the discerning, quality-conscious and fashionable customer.
GERRY WEBER focusses on the satisfaction of their customers. Attractive collections, a balanced sales network and maximum service continue to provide the sustainable and profitable growth of the GERRY WEBER Group. In order to maintain this goal, they have defined strategic initiatives such as customer-oriented product development and solution-oriented and lean processes.
Since its foundation in 1973, GERRY WEBER International AG has developed into one of the best-known fashion and lifestyle companies where each brand emphasises the wearer’s individual style in its own unique way. The company today operates around 200 of its own stores in Germany, and around 570 self-managed retail spaces in 59 countries around the world.
“We restructured GERRY WEBER again last year to minimise our costs and optimise our processes,” explains Angelika Schindler-Obenhaus, current COO and designated CEO of GERRY WEBER International AG. “In order to make as many sales as possible during the lockdown period, we have developed some innovative sales strategies such as personal shopping, sales videos and window shopping.”
Due to the exceptional circumstances that have surrounded the retail industry because of the global pandemic, no new full-price stores have been opened recently. Since the middle of last year, they have been concentrating on expanding their factory outlet business. In the future, they will again focus on new openings in their own retail business in order to profitably expand their store portfolio. “In terms of franchise stores, in August last year we opened in Alexandria, Egypt and coming soon are partner stores in France and Russia.”
When discussing new markets, Schindler-Obenhaus explains that the brand sees the greatest potential in its home market of Germany along with Austria, Belgium, Netherlands and Poland. In order to expand the new ideals of the brand, they are looking to grow in core markets and key locations in Germany such as Berlin, Bielefeld, Cologne, Frankfurt and Leipzig.
To maintain its market position, the company focuses on the needs of its target group, and they translate current trends into products suitable for said target group. “We will examine the concepts developed during the lockdown very carefully in order to continue offering all new services post-lockdown. Our customers’ needs have changed due to the pandemic and they have learnt what is now possible in terms of service,” comments Schindler-Obenhaus.
“Even before the outbreak of the pandemic, it was clear that retail needed new concepts in order to remain exciting and without alternatives for customers. The pandemic has forced us to think completely outside of the box. We will take many of the insights and possibilities with us into the time after.”
Social media has become a massive marketing area for retailers across the globe, and GERRY WEBER is no exception. They work closely and in partnership with selected influencers who match their target group and brand message.
They have also expanded their existing digital formats as well as developing completely new formats during the pandemic. Digital collection handovers to sales, digital ordering options for retail partners, personal and video shopping for our customers as well as digital customer events and surprise packages and digital live talks are just a few examples of this.
Over its decades of existence, GERRY WEBER has gradually and consistently built up its customer loyalty through its collections of superbly fitting items made from the highest quality. In addition, their brand awareness continues to improve through its social media output and its constant goal of inspiring sustainability within its main target group.
“The key drivers for us are international growth in a sustainable way and sustainability as a whole (especially circular economy – right through to product development). Furthermore we are driven by the fashion mission statement for our target group that is ‘being more beautiful in an individual and feminine way’. Finally, we focus on modernity and style for the confident women of this generation,” Schindler-Obenhaus states.
As the interview begins to draw to a close, we ask the CEO in the making what lies ahead and what is the greatest challenge for the company currently?
“The further shift of retail to e-commerce is definitely a challenge for us as we continue to adapt. Our other challenges are continuing to create concepts for bricks-and-mortar retail that offers more.”
The company is completely convinced that, like themselves, brands of the future will have to embody a clear attitude as they do in order to survive. The aim of the business will be to continue to address all women and convey self-confidence through superior fit and quality.