Dockers reclaims the throne of casualwear: Levi Strauss relaunches brand and accelerates in Europe
Dockers main European market is Spain, which covers 50% of its business in the continent. France, Turkey and Spain represent 80% of sales in Europe.
Dockers is back in the game. The company, owned by the Levi Strauss group, pioneered the introduction of the Chino pants when the suit still rules as the main office attire. But as its bestseller became fashionable across the planet, Dockers disconnect from the consumer whom it now wants to reconquer once again. Europe is one of the key markets in its plan, which began in 2016 and will now ne scaled with openings and expansions across the continent.
Levi Strauss launched Dockers in 1986. The goal was to find a gap between the suit that prevailed in the office and the jeans that dominated the weekend’s closet. “we were the fastest brands to reach on billion dollars, at the of the nineties,” recall Francisco González-Meza, general manager of Dockers in Europe.
Although America remains its main market, Europe has become its growth engine and the spearhead of its transformation.
Docker has simplified its offer and reordered its pricing architectures
“We disconnected from the consumer: the working world has evolved, but we didn’t,” says González-Meza. The objective of Dockers is to attract new generations of customers with a rational proposal and chino pants as the cornerstone. “We are going to a consumer who is looking for solutions, not fashion or trend,” says the executive.
The process began in 2016 and has been progressive. One of the first steps was to dilute the structure of the collection to make it “easier” and review the architecture of prices. “Before we had six or seven prices for pants per season and five or six for shirts; now we have three for both of them,” says González-Meza.
In 2017, the company returned to television, with campaigns under the slogan “to change the world you don’t need a suit” and linked to the image of the new generation entrepreneur. "We have been very lucky because Levi Strauss&Co. allows us to adapt as much as possible to the European market: here we want to avoid the Silicon Valley stereotype and look for more European points of reference,” he adds.
“We disconnected from the consumer: the working world has evolved, but we didn’t,” says González-Meza
The company, González-Meza explains, has three types of consumers: “the one who loved us and will remain loyal to us -who was 30 years old when we were founded 30 years ago; the one who knew us and forgot us, and the new one, who is discovering us with a skinny Smart360flex”.
Dockers Europe is headquartered in Brussels, where it shares offices with Levi Strauss and from where corporate functions in Europe such as marketing or merchandising.
Levi Strauss commercial functions in Europe are piloted from four clusters: north (United Kingdom, Ireland and Scandinavia), central (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg and German-speaking countries), East (Balkans, Central Europe, Russia, Poland and Turkey) and south, the most important for Dockers, which includes Spain, Portugal, France and Italy.
In the latter area, the company has offices in Paris and Barcelona. Spain is, in fact, its largest market in the continent for Dockers, accounting for 50% of the total business. Docker’s three largest territories, Spain, France and Turkey, represent 80% of sales.
The company plans to start opening franchises in France and return to retail in Madrid
After starting the repositioning plan, Dockers’ current objective is scaling the model with new openings. The company presently operates with a total of 19 stores, in addition to spaces in department stores such as El Corte Ingles, Boyner in Turkey or Coin in Italy, and its own website.
In Spain, the company has six stores and 25 corners in El Corte Inglés, and will add an additional one in Malaga Designer Outlet this year. The company’s best store worldwide is in Diagonal Mar’s, in Barcelona. Additionally, the company has already started looking for stores to reopen in Madrid, where until the end of 2019 it had a store in Fuencarral (street in the center of downtown Madrid).
“We are taking advantage of Levi’s store rentals that are about to expire to test our new concept; if it works, we look for a definitive location,” says the executive.
In addition, the company has three franchised stores in Portugal and six in Turkey, and has just initiated this model in France, where it will add up four more stores this year. The multi-brand channel represents only 25% of its sales in the continent.
“We follow the strategy of bullets to cannonballs: first we made small investments and, now that we have well defined the model, it is the cannon shot in our main markets”, summarizes González-Meza.
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