Brownie closes 2022 with 100 points of sale and €70 million in revenues
Internationalisation is leading Brownie's new era. Founded in 2006 by Mercedes Ortega and Juan Morera, the Barcelona-based women's fashion brand is embarking on an international expansion project after having successfully established itself on the Iberian Peninsula over the last few years. On the occasion of its second store opening in France, located in the heart of Le Marais in Paris, FashionNetwork.com interviewed its co-founder and CEO to review the last few years and learn more about the future plans of the company, which already boasts a hundred locations internationally.
"We have picked up considerable turnover in the last two or three years and we have started to grow in size. Prior to the pandemic, we were already well established in Spain and Portugal but, at that time, we realized that it made sense to continue to grow and expand into France," explained Spanish businessman Morera, detailing that the firm's entry into the region took place in May of last year with the opening of nine corners in Printemps department stores in cities such as Paris, Marseille, Lille, Rennes, Rouen, Nancy and Toulon.
"France is a challenging market and it was a bold step on our part to enter the French market right after the pandemic," said the CEO, saying that results have been "very good" in the first few months and that he intends to maintain this selective retail presence.
Driven by the positive feedback from its points of sale, Brownie opened its first own store in the country last February. The 140-square-meter boutique is located in Paris' Rive Gauche, at 74 rue de Rennes, and a second location was opened this November.
Located a few steps away from Hôtel de Ville, the new Brownie store occupies a refined 180-square-meter space at 18 rue Malher. The brand now shares the spotlight in the Marais district with other Spanish brands such as Bimba y Lola and Adolfo Dominguez.
Target: France as Brownie's leading market in terms of turnover
This store opening will be followed by others in Bercy Village and the Westfield Vélizy 2 shopping center, located on the outskirts of Paris, in the coming months. "We are at a very exciting time. We have always wondered if there is a 'Brownie girl' in other countries. And the good thing is that she not only exists but also consumes. There is still a lot to do in France," said Morera, adding that, in the long term, the country should become the brand's leading market in terms of turnover.
Once established in the French capital, Brownie will look to expand in cities such as Bordeaux, Lyon, Lille, Marseille and Nice. The company's prices in France are 20% higher than in Spain in order to "adapt to the region's purchasing power and maintain its brand positioning".
With around 50 points of sale in Spain and 11 in Portugal, the Iberian Peninsula currently leads the family company's sales. "We can't have much widespread presence like other brands. Portugal is a small country and we still have to open three or four more stores," said the entrepreneur. In Spain, Brownie has announced store openings over the last few months at the El Prat airport and at the La Roca Village outlet in Barcelona.
Expanding into Israel, the Netherlands and Germany in the near future
The brand, which also plans to expand into the Netherlands and Germany by 2024, already has a physical retail presence in Andorra, Belgium, Chile and Mexico. In Mexico, Brownie already has 22 corners in Liverpool, thanks to an alliance that began two years ago. In early November, the Barcelona-based brand opened its first physical store in the region, a 100-square-meter space located in the Artz Pedregal shopping mall in Mexico City. Next year, the brand will increase its presence in the country with two or three more spaces in department stores.
"Across the Atlantic, Mexico is our number one strategic country. In Latin America, our goal is to enter the Colombian, Peruvian and Panamanian markets in the future," said the CEO, announcing that the company has already agreed to open its third point of sale in Chile in partnership with Falabella. In addition, the brand will land in Israel next March with a local partner. Regarding its strategy in markets where the brand is already present, the main challenge for Morera is to "consolidate the business".
The results reflect Brownie's strategic direction. The womenswear company will close the current fiscal year with a 40% increase in sales to around 70 million euros. For the coming year, the CEO expects sales to grow to 80 to 90 million euros. "Brownie began with very local stores, in Madrid and Barcelona, but there came a time when we had to believe in the company more, especially since figures were backing us up. We have gone through many years of development, we have made very successful recruitments and count on a very good management team", said the head of the company, which already has 499 employees (90 of them at headquarters).
The online channel accounts for 10% of sales
The online channel, launched more than a decade ago, has always experienced double-digit growth. "Following the pandemic, there was a spectacular boom and we have been able to take advantage of it. We have maintained growth and there are even days when we have triple-digit growth", said Morera, stating that e-commerce represents 10% of sales and that the goal is for it to account for 20% in two years' time.
"As we have experienced a lot of growth in the physical channel, it is difficult for the online channel to keep up with the same pace," said the manager, commenting on the company's figures. Brownie is headquartered in the center of Barcelona and ships its products from its logistics center in Spain.
"Everything we earn we reinvest in the business. We are a family company and this is my father's legacy. We don't go beyond our means, we invest sparingly and opt for very organic growth," said the CEO, who for the moment is not interested in bringing in outside investors into the company, which produces 85% of its collections in Spain, Portugal, Morocco and Turkey while the remaining portion is manufactured in China and India. "Betting on local production allows us to streamline our supply chain and to be able to respond more quickly to any unforeseen events," he added.
Morera remains optimistic about the future. "I see a lot of room for progress. The company is still in its very early stage of expansion and we still have a long way to go," he concluded, revealing that Brownie is already discussing potential future collaborations with international partners.
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