Boss revamps Champs-Elysées flagship in Paris, its largest worldwide
today Oct 9, 2019
“In the course of over six months, we never closed [the store] down. Our team has managed to cope with the noise and the disturbance,” says Volker Herre, general manager South Europe of the Hugo Boss group since 2016, a man with a 25-year career at the German label. On Sunday, Herre unveiled Boss’s revamped, state-of-the-art flagship store on the Champs-Elysées in Paris.
The premises have been completely renovated. Daylight streams in through large picture windows, highlighting the tall, imposing ceiling, while the store’s statement staircase is overlooked by two LED screens of respectively 10 m2 and 25 m2, showing videos and images from Boss’s advertising campaigns and runway shows.
The store’s new interior design is elegant, with a colour palette of black, white and navy blue, the ambience enhanced by marble-effect flooring and furniture and interior details in pale oak wood. Inside the new flagship, Boss customers are figuratively able to loosen up their tie-knot, encouraged by the lounge-like décor with its array of armchairs and sofas, inspired by the style of designer Pierre Paulin, both in the basement, dedicated to menswear, and the spacious mezzanine, showcasing the label’s womenswear collections.
“Womenswear accounts for a slightly larger share of revenue in France [about 10% of the total], and we improved the women’s section by installing dedicated fitting rooms. We have already received positive feed-back about this new approach,” says Herre.
A digitalised store
Bespoke service is key, and Boss has clearly put a lot of effort into it. The flagship offers a Click & Collect service, as well as bespoke tailoring with suits starting at €1,200 - a service that was available at the Opéra store during the flagship’s renovation. Also, the new ‘Boss Made for Me’ personalisation service, enabling customers to hand-pick their suits’ details (from €700), to customise sneakers and, since this week, down jackets too. The store has been steeped in digital technology. There are tables equipped with tablet PCs and large touch-screens scattered around the retail area. Altogether, there are 10 connected devices in the store, for the use of both customers and sales assistants.
“Our sales teams have been trained to use them, and we can see they are very useful tools for selling. French customers are ready. France has the best results in terms of orders from stores, in other words online orders from our shops, thanks to the sales assistants’ follow-up work,” says Herre.
Boss’s revamped flagship is the ideal tool to meet a major challenge. With a retail area of 1,226 m2 on two levels, it is Boss’s largest store worldwide, and a showcase of the label’s strength.
“This store is crucial for our brand image. We have equipped it with the latest innovations, from touch-screens to the first permanent area dedicated to customisation. Entire walls display our jeans and sneakers range,” Herre explains.
"The concept was tested elsewhere, before we deployed it at our largest store. In southern Europe, it has also been introduced in Milan, where Boss showed again at the last Fashion Week. Of course, the ‘yellow vest’ movement impacted footfall heavily in the Champs Elysées area. We realise it will be some time before tourists will frequent the area again on week-ends. Here we have an extensive international clientèle, but also many customers from France. France is the world’s fifth-largest market for Hugo Boss.”
France the fifth-largest market for Hugo Boss
Based on the latest quarterly results, Boss and its contemporary counterpart Hugo are doing pretty well on the French market, where the group is distributed via 20 monobrand stores and some 300 multibrand retailers. In Q2 of the current financial year, sales in France reportedly grew by 6%, while the German market recorded a 5% slump.
“It will be tough to climb into the top three, with Germany still the leading market and China posting remarkable growth. But French customers are embracing the label and I’m always pleasantly surprised by the brand’s strength, in France as well as in Italy and Spain. They are different markets, all open to luxury fashion. Here, we compete with the likes of Dior and Saint Laurent,” adds Herre.
In the whole of southern Europe, where Hugo Boss operates 80 stores, the group has started to refashion its monobrand stores, notably shifting to smaller premises, as Boss recently did in Strasbourg, France. It will also open a store in Bordeaux, on cours de l'Intendance. The group’s declared objective is to boost profitability per m2. In the last quarter, the latter improved slightly, reaching €11,000 per m2, but Global CEO Mark Langer wants to raise it to €13,000 per m2 by the end of 2022.
Digitalising the stores and introducing a new retail concept is expected to help. It will be a few seasons before the Barcelona and Madrid flagships will be upgraded, but Herre said that the new stores at Istanbul’s airport are performing positively.
According to him, Hugo’s Parisian store in the Marais district, a year after opening, is finding its feet. The label was repositioned almost two years ago, and it is growing. It currently accounts for just over 10% of sales and, in a few seasons, it could be in a position to step up the pace of its expansion.
In the meantime, Boss is upgrading its outlet centre shops, where it generates 21% of revenue. A much-needed investment. The group is forecasting an average annual growth of sales between 5% and 7% until 2022, achieving an operating margin of 15% by then. To do so, it will rely on expansion in Asia, on the growth of Hugo and of that of online sales (which accounted for 4% of the total in H1), both via its own e-shop and via websites like Zalando and Net-a-Porter, with which Boss has struck partnership deals. In H1 2019, closed at the end of June, the Boss group generated a revenue of €1.339 billion, of which €832 million came from Europe.