At the end of October, the Spanish company Lola Casademunt landed in Saudi Arabia. It specializes in women’s fashion and accessories marketed under the umbrella of its two commercial lines “Lola Casademunt” and “Lola Casademunt by Maite” and is regularly seen at the two major Spanish fashion weeks – 080 Barcelona Fashion and Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Madrid .
The opening in Jeddah is the first step of an expansion plan that extends throughout Saudi Arabia and will be completed with seven stores thanks to the collaboration with a local company that will accompany them in this new market.
In an interview with FashionUnited, Lola Casademunt CEO Paco Sanchez discusses the details of this opening as part of a broader expansion strategy. He also shares his experiences testing these markets and explains key aspects of the company’s overall strategy, such as its omnichannel approach and ambitious growth targets.
What is the company’s strategy and expansion plan in Saudi Arabia and how does it adapt to the local culture?
The opening of our first store in The Village Mall, Jeddah marks the beginning of our expansion in Saudi Arabia, where we plan to open a total of seven stores: two this year, two next year and three more the year after that.
This strategy is developed in collaboration with a strong local partner, an established retailer in the region known for its expertise in the retail world.
Given the specificities of the country, we considered it crucial to have a local partner with whom we developed our entire business model together to ensure Lola Casademunt’s success in this unique market.
“We have found the ideal partner and are very happy about it.”
How did the process that led to expansion in Saudi Arabia evolve, taking into account the cultural and market differences compared to Spain and Europe?
A first approach to the UAE took place during Expo Dubai and we thought it would be more interesting to start our expansion in the region with Saudi Arabia. The influx of Arab customers into the store in Barcelona and the emails from interested parties from this region also influenced our decision to look for a strategic partner in this region.
We have opened a store in The Village Mall in Jeddah and plan to open another in Riyadh later this year. We are also expanding into a premium mall called Solitaire that is under construction and is scheduled to open in February.
What successes has Lola Casademunt achieved in international expansion and what are the most important countries?
Outside Spain we continue to successfully expand in various markets. In Italy, our expansion is focused on the wholesale market, where we are experiencing significant growth. Italy has become a very profitable market for us, closely followed by France and Belgium, which come first after Spain.
We recently established a presence in Slovenia by opening a shop-in-shop in collaboration with a local partner. We have also increased our presence in Mexico, especially in Palacio del Hierro, where we now have 13 shop-in-shops.
During this campaign, we also launched operations in Poland with Modibo, the region’s leading retailer of leisure products, which has been well received by the market. And although Germany presents a challenge, we have also started operations in this country.
Cyprus is another market where we have done well, becoming the best-selling fashion brand in the country and opening up opportunities in Greece.
In Puerto Rico, we have reached 14 points of sale and are working closely with a partner to open a shop-in-shop in Miami, scheduled to open in January next year.
In short, our presence extends to 30 countries outside of Spain, such as Chile, Colombia, Egypt, Ireland, Holland and Sweden, as well as neighboring Portugal, where we operate four spaces in El Corte Inglés.
How has Lola Casademunt’s global expansion strategy evolved through October 2023?
At Lola Casademunt we measure productivity on a global scale. We are currently present in 30 countries, creating a channel that is very important for the future of the company. In January 2021, our sales activities were limited exclusively to Spain and Portugal. However, by October 2023, this expansion has consolidated, providing us with a solid foundation.
Our online channel has experienced growth since the start of the pandemic. It is present in 13 countries and has developed into a profitable source with future prospects. On the other hand, our own stores allow us to have a business model that is closer to the end customer. We are an omnichannel company and our goal is to bring our products closer to all of our customers.
We know the different preferences of women who wear Lola Casademunt; some prefer El Corte Inglés, while others don’t seek it out. Some choose malls while others are loyal to outlets. And the online channel brings us closer to many other customers.
How has the company managed to deal with the complexity of the omnichannel business in the fashion industry?
We have a strong acceleration process supported by an exceptional team. During the pandemic, we took the opportunity to build a high-caliber management team. From 2020 to today, we have consolidated a first, second and third tier global team. Over the course of this year we have hired 100 highly experienced fashion experts with extensive international backgrounds.
This expansion has allowed us to overcome significant challenges, such as adopting omnichannel. Integrating all channels, from supply chain to logistics and systems, is a complex process. In the world of retail, tensions between retail and wholesale and between online and offline commerce are not uncommon. However, we have managed to align all levels and channels towards a common goal and thus overcome traditional industry barriers.
What are the company’s short-term goals and strategies?
In the last three years we have managed to triple our sales and significantly increase our awareness. Our goal for the period from January 2023 to December 2026 is to triple sales again.
In addition to our economic objectives, we also focus on the quality of our products and maintaining a close relationship with our customers, who are among the most loyal in Spanish retail.
Beyond these goals, given the positive acceptance of our products in other countries, we strive to consolidate our position as a leading brand in the world of fashion at an international level.
What is your main motivation as a company behind the decision to participate in MBFW Madrid and 080 Barcelona Fashion?
I consider it a must to take part in the two most important fashion shows in the country. Our clientele follows not only fashion but also our DNA, so it is a way to bring our collections closer and highlight them.
Since there are two fashion weeks in one country, we present the same collection but not the same items to distinguish the Barcelona fashion show from the Madrid one. They are two inspirations within the same mood to show the audience our ability to design and surprise in a few weeks.
How does the brand approach expanding its product offering and how does it organize its design teams?
The Lola Casademunt brand is characterized by the fact that it focuses on “total look” fashion, i.e. that covers our customers’ entire wardrobe. Until now, despite our success in selling beachwear, we have been missing in the swimwear category, which we will change with our participation in the Tenerife Fashion Beach Costa Adeje for the first time.
For each of our lines, Lola Casademunt and Lola Casademunt by Maite (our premium line), as well as the accessories collections, we have a specialized team guided by the creative vision of Maite, the creative director of the company founded by her mother leaves.
This translated article originally appeared on FashionUnited.es.