Lacoste lovers don’t just look to Roland-Garros where Djokovic, the ambassador of the crocodile brand, rubs shoulders with Nadal the bull. They will also increasingly turn their heads towards the Champs-Élysées, where Lacoste has opened the first flagship of his fleet of stores.
At 50 de l’avenue, on the site of the old Gaumont cinema, in a building owned by the Seydoux who control the cinema giant, the point of sale occupies 1,600 square meters and features 9,500 rooms ranging from sports (tennis, golf, fitness) to the traditional piqué polo shirt, which includes prêt-à-porter collections for women, men and children, footwear, leather goods and licenses for watches, glasses and perfumes.
Resumption of licenses
The Covid-19 cut the attendance of the most beautiful avenue in the world in half between March 2020 and March 2021. But foreign tourists, especially Americans, have returned. Only the Chinese are missing. And the great Parisian avenue has welcomed many big brands for several years. Nike and Apple have reached an agreement. Adidas has been there for a long time. Before the crisis, there were 100 million walkers in the “Champs” per year, including 30 million tourists. Since then, the ‘yellow vests’ and the pandemic have bruised the artery, but the time for rebirth has come.
The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, gave the starting signal a few days ago a big renovation project whose first phase, which must be completed before the 2024 Olympic Games, will have an endowment of 31 million euros.
Those responsible for the tennis-born brand, which belongs to the Swiss group MF Brands (the Maus brothers), do not feel divided between the tradition of good manners and the youth of the suburbs who have adopted the crocodile and frequent the Champs – Elysiums. “I am proud that young people wear Lacoste. This reinforces my idea of offering pieces that transcend generations and are made to last”, summarizes the general manager, Frenchman Thierry Guibert.
The obstacle to reaching the goal of 4,000 million euros of turnover in 2027 was hidden elsewhere. “We were able to open this ‘flagship’ because we assumed ownership of our footwear, leather goods and underwear licenses”, explains the manager.
The opening of the flagship store responds above all to the development of online sales. Lacoste obtains 30% of its turnover (2,000 million euros in 2021) on the Web. Shop windows in the heart of world-famous metropolises advertise brands. After the Champs Elysées in Paris, Lacoste will be installed next February in London, on Regent Street, in approximately 1,000 square meters. Shanghai will follow, adds the managing director. A store has already opened in New York in 2021.
develop the woman
Lacoste has 1,100 stores worldwide (including 90 in France) plus 300 franchise outlets. “We do not intend to develop our park. The growth of online sales leads us rather to a slight reduction of the network”, says Thierry Guibert.
The brand, created by René Lacoste in 1933, overcame the health crisis without setbacks. Sales plunged 12% in 2020 and then increased 18% in 2021 with, in the end, a 3% gain compared to 2019. The geographical balance was not altered. The United States remains the leading country for crocodiles (19% of activity), just ahead of France (18%). Europe, excluding France, represents 33% of sales and Asia more than 25%.
Thierry Guibert expects a turnover of 2.4 billion by the end of 2022. For him, shoes are a lever for growth. It represents 20% of sales, a rate that has already doubled. Although textiles continue to be the largest part of the business (70%), women’s products represent only 17% of the brand’s turnover. This is another deposit. Lacoste is addressing this in particular by developing its ranges of fitness and yoga products. The trend is definitely for the active woman who dresses up for sports. Experts call this in English “athleisure”.