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Nicola Mira
Sep 30, 2019
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Anthropologie opens two stores in Paris, accelerates expansion in Europe

Translated by
Nicola Mira
Sep 30, 2019

Anthropologie is accelerating the pace of its expansion in Europe. The fashion and lifestyle retailer owned by US group URBN landed in Europe in 2009, opening the first of the 13 stores it now operates in the UK, and crossed the Channel in 2018, to launch into continental Europe. Since then, it has been establishing a presence in major cities, among them Paris. On September 27, FashionNetwork.com discussed Anthropologie’s international strategy with Peter Ruis, the retailer’s managing director of international operations, who was travelling through Paris.

The boho-chic atmosphere of Anthropologie’s Opéra store in Paris - FashionNetwork

Two weeks ago, Anthropologie opened a store in Paris’s Marais district, and has now inaugurated a second store in the French capital at 38 avenue de l’Opéra, integrating the French e-store which has been active since 2015. The Opéra store, with a retail area of just over 300 m2, sells a range of premium fashion, home decoration products and accessories in a creative bohemian ambience.

“Initially, when we made our plans for Paris, we told ourselves, ‘perhaps a flagship on the Champs-Elysées, or boulevard Haussmann’,” said Peter Ruis. “Then, as we focused on [Anthropologie’s] brand DNA, we had the opportunity to pick these two stores, at premises smaller than we’re accustomed to, but with genuine architectural character (a skylight, stone walls), in different districts. If you’re not based in the Marais when your business has a well-developed lifestyle side to it, something’s not right! As for Opéra, it’s a central area frequented by tourists, but there are also plenty of offices in the vicinity."

Anthropologie is keen to open more stores in France. “We’re looking at premises in Lyon, and why not Nice, where Urban Outfitters is going to open a store soon,” said Ruis. The latter would be the second branch for the US fashion retailer in France, after the URBN group’s brand first set up shop in Paris in February 2018.

Peter Ruis is in charge of international operations for Anthropologie - Anthropologie

Anthropologie isn’t planning to expand in France alone. “Anthropologie is a relatively mature brand in the USA, where it has only a limited potential for new openings, therefore the senior management decided to seek for growth opportunities abroad,” said Ruis.

In mid-November, Anthropologie will enter the Dutch market, opening a store on Leidsestraat, one of Amsterdam’s commercial thoroughfares. In Germany, it opened a first store in 2018, in Düsseldorf, and a second opening is planned in Hamburg in spring 2020. “Berlin and Munich are also definitely on our list,” said Ruis, who took charge of Anthropologie’s international markets in mid-2018.

In November 2019, the lifestyle retailer will also broaden its retail footprint in the UK, opening two extra stores, in Oxford and Kingston upon Thames. A store also opened in Belfast, Northern Ireland, last August. The Brexit uncertainty doesn’t seem to trouble Ruis: “We are going to open four to five stores per year [in the UK]. One of the positive effects of this political problem is the decrease in the cost of commercial leases, so we’re taking advantage.”  

One of the features of Anthropologie’s stores is that they all showcase art installations, like the paper butterflies pictured here - FashionNetwork

In Spain, Anthropologie established a foothold in Barcelona, opening a flagship store last February, and the launch of the brand’s e-tail site is heralded for spring 2020. It is only after kicking off its Spanish online business that Anthropologie will consider a brick-and-mortar opening in Madrid, where it is actively seeking retail premises.

This expansion strategy is part of a 10-year plan drawn up by the brand’s international staff, which will undoubtedly also include Italy. “[Anthropologie] is currently generating a revenue of about $100 million in Europe. Our goal is to achieve at least $500 million within 10 years, and to operate by then some 50 stores in the continent [there are currently 17],” said Ruis. This growth will also be driven by e-tail, since the goal is for the latter to account for between 50% and 70% of the European business, as opposed to approximately 30% as of now.

Anthropologie was created in 1992 by the founder of the URBN group. It currently operates 200 stores worldwide and in the 2018-19 financial year it generated a revenue of $1.598 billion, equivalent to a healthy 8.5% annual growth. Half of its sales come from ready-to-wear, accessories account for nearly 15% and the rest is produced by home decoration products.

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