In our ‘Checking in’ column, we call, Skype or ‘Team’ with a range of inspirational fashion industry figures, getting their take on the past, present and future. In this edition: a glimpse behind the scenes at Bestseller Nederland, with Country manager Patrice van Rooyen.
Bestseller needs no introduction. The Scandinavian fashion company, with the Dane Anders Holch Povlsen at the helm, has 26 labels for men, women and children in its brand portfolio, and is a major and enduring presence in the retail landscape. Despite the pandemic, Bestseller reports better-than-expected results, and the company – even in the current climate – is daring to launch new brands. The message: the market still
wants more, and if they have the opportunity to fill gaps, Bestseller will seize the chance.
"Digital and physical purchasing will co-exist"
What’s the biggest change compared to last year?
Patrice van Rooyen: ‘Last year, we were making preparations for offering our customers online assistance, but interest was somewhat lacking. The majority of customers still had a wait-and-see approach to digital purchases. But this turned full circle with the first semi-lockdown. And we expect things to stay this way for the time being. Purchasing of trend collections and quick decision-making will boom online. We have quickly learned that selling trends digitally allows us to be much more responsive, as we skip the sampling process. Pre-order purchasing will remain predominantly in the physical showrooms. Retailers will always want to actually touch the collections, to let the fabric flow through their fingers. Digital and physical purchasing will co-exist’.
How are the Bestseller brands performing during the pandemic?
‘We’ve exceeded expectations, and have even added two new labels to our brand package: the kid’s label Only Play Girls, and Pieces Maternity – an additional maternity label. During the first wave, from March to May, our forecast turnover for autumn 2020 was much lower. I think that our affordable fashion, the rapid turnover of our brands and perhaps also the departure of some competitors in the field have allowed us to weather this crisis. The children’s labels have surpassed expectations, and clearly outperformed other labels. We did see a decline in women’s fashion, which we are putting down to mothers prioritising their children between March and May. Men’s fashion remained stable. Whether anything actually changed? Well, there were some changes: during the first lockdown, Junarose was transformed into Vero Moda Curve. This allows the line to benefit from the reputation of Vero Moda.
A major change to help retailers was our decision to immediately expand our never out of stock range, to create more purchasing flexibility for customers. It works as follows: the customer orders a start box of a certain item, and can scale up or down depending on sales. We are also working with our customers to come up with ways of boosting their resales, and to establish which tools they need to make improvements. We make our images and content available to retailers, so that they have sufficient material to make online sales. And we are exploring how they can attract consumers, through Instagram Shopping, for example.
Sure, when it comes to hard results, we’ve also taken a hit. Nobody could have predicted what was on the horizon. But by working with our customers to find solutions, we’re doing better than forecast’.
What’s coming up for Bestseller?
‘At the end of 2020, we would like to celebrate a special milestone with our customers. We really want to remain focused on Fashion FWD, our sustainable strategy. We have set ourselves the target of achieving predominantly sustainable and circular production by 2025. We’ll be making absolutely no concessions in that regard.
In 2021, we’ll move forward with expanding our brand package. We’re launching a new, uncompromising, denim-oriented women’s label, and we’ll be adding Jack & Jones Plus Size to the men’s segment. We’ll also be increasing our focus on plus size women’s fashion by expanding our existing labels Vero Moda Curve and ONLY Carmakoma, and by offering specific Selected Femme models in plus sizes.
So it’s positive news from Bestseller...
‘Absolutely. The market is still after new brands. If the opportunity arises to fill gaps, we’ll certainly seize the chance’.
Written by Marjolein Stormezand