Turkey's Avva targets UK menswear debut, sees it as gateway to Europe
Turkish apparel giant Dido Group is targeting the UK menswear market with its contemporary Avva brand and is currently in talks with retail landlords that should mean it opening at least one store in Britain within a year.
The brand, which has 72 stores in its domestic market and 30 more globally, sees the UK as the “start-up market for Europe” and wants to take advantage of both the relatively buoyant UK menswear sector and its ability to act as an “influencer” market for other countries.
But at the giant Pure exhibition in London, brand chairman Volkan Atik and Erdi Simsek, MD of London-based agency Vercia Group, told Fashion Network that it will take its UK debut slowly and carefully and is still in research mode.
“We are planing to invest in the UK and to open stores on our own and through franchising. Usually we open our own stores first and then start franchising after. But at this fair, we want to observe, and work out what we can do. We are talking with real estate companies and trying to understand the costs of starting a retail operation in this market.”
Simsek also said that the brand was seeing good response to its offer at the tradeshow with the general view being that it’s “different with good quality and good prices.”
The brand is positioned securely in the middle of the contemporary menswear sector with retail prices from around £129 up to £299 and it’s a positioning that seems to be striking a chord globally with men seeking clothing with a trend edge.
The brand creates four collections per season and although it designs each season’s offer in one go, it has capacity for about 10% to 15% to be for what Atik called “flash items”, a.k.a. ‘open-to-buy’.
It’s able to do this because of its hugely efficient supply chain with the company manufacturing everything in Turkey. “Having production in Turkey, we're very fast,” Atik explained. "A company in the UK when they think about an item, it can take more than four or five months for them to touch the final piece. But for us, the whole story is six weeks. We don’t have our own production facilities, but we have more than 100 suppliers supplying us, all in Turkey.”
That close-to-home supply network has been crucial as the brand has expanded globally and helped it compete in giant markets such as the US and Russia. Today, as well as its own stores, Avva is stocked in over 3,000 multibrand locations around the world and while Turkey remains its largest market, 70% of its sales are international.
And those sales are growing fast. In the last five years, they’ve risen five-fold with Atik saying that “in 2017 our growth was 38%.” And it looks like a slowdown isn’t due any time soon. Simsek said the company is also “looking at [expansion to] some Eastern European countries like Romania, Poland, Bulgaria and Greece,” and, of course, its main focus for Western Europe, Britain.
As mentioned, Avva sees the UK as a gateway market for the rest of Western Europe but also as an appealing market in its own right.
“Menswear is quite strong in the UK and there are many countries influenced from the UK market, that’s why we want to be here,” Atik explained. But he’s not complacent about how easy it will be. “We know that the barriers are not very low, but with our design and production potential and organised retail mentality we’re sure we can find a solution,” he added.
“We have self confidence because we know how to run stores, we know how to follow the trends around the world,” he said, adding that Avva also knows how to design. “Until five years ago, ‘Made in Turkey’ was quite strong all around the world. But now we’re trying to push people to understand that it’s not only made in Turkey but also designed in Turkey.”
The company gets its message out there by being a very active participant in fashion weeks and tradeshows (helped by a major Turkish government incentive programme that subsidises such participation), as well as also focusing on marketing and PR.
Will the Turkish design story go down well in the UK? We won’t know for a while yet and Atik admitted that it can take five to seven years to establish a brand in a market, especially as the company appears to be in no hurry.
But without committing himself to any timelines, he said that the business should have at least one store open within a year and chances are it will be in a mall. Around 95% of the brand’s stores are mall-based, despite the challenges that malls are facing at present.
That said, those very challenges could help reduce the costs for the company to open in Britain, at least in the first year. Atik said the firm is currently being enthusiastically courted by retail landlords offering generous terms for Avva to open in their mall.
Who knows, we might just see Avva opening sooner rather than later.
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