The interview


“Kiabi fashion stores will open in Saudi Arabia and Poland this year”

Nicolas Hennon is the new Chief Executive of Kiabi, the French low-priced fashion brand


    In Western Europe, Kiabi reports an amazing sales growth in sluggish fashion markets. Sophie Baqué met Nicolas Hennon, General Director of Kiabi, and Cyril Olivier, Kiabi’s Internet Director.


    Sophie Baqué: Could you present Kiabi group for us?
    Nicolas Hennon: Kiabi was founded in 1978 by Patrick Mulliez. In the end of December 2014, our store network consisted of 454 units, of which 231 were fully-owned and 121 run by affiliates, in 9 European countries (France, Spain, Italy, Russia, Morocco, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium and Malta). Like-for-like sales grew by 5.3% in 2013, then by 8.7% in 2014, reaching €1.56 billion. It’s an all-time record, especially since the clothing market is stable in France. Kiabi has become France’s largest clothing retailer, with a value market share of 10%. We’ve beaten Galeries Lafayette, which was historically France’s largest retailer by market share!


    Sophie Baqué: In 2007, you returned to Kiabi after having worked for 7 years with Vivarte. Why?
    Nicolas Hennon: My entire career has been with fashion retailers. I started my career with Camaieu in 1999, then I worked for 7 years with Kiabi in different roles (purchasing, sales, etc.) In 2001, I joined Vivarte, where I learned how non-familial shareholders behave. I finally came back to Kiabi in 2007 to open the Portuguese branch, and then I managed Kiabi in Italy for 4 years.


    Sophie Baqué: Could you describe the typical Kiabi store for us?
    Cyril Olivier: On average, in France, our stores have 2,000 sq.m of sales area and are located in retail parks. The average price for one of our fashion items is €8. In 2014, Kiabi recruited many new customers while buying frequency has also increased. It’s very encouraging!


    Sophie Baqué: How is Kiabi doing at the international level?
    Nicolas Hennon: 76% of our turnover comes from France, where the fashion market remained stable in 2014. However, Kiabi has big stakes and ambitions internationally. While it only accounts for 24% of our activity, sales are growing rapidly in all countries. Our 3 key markets are Spain, Italy, and Russia.


    Sophie Baqué: Kiabi opened 12 stores in 2014. Why such a moderate pace?

    Nicolas Hennon: Because of its familial ownership, Kiabi self-finances its store expansion. Our development is proportional to our financing capacity.




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