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French force: Sandro CEO on the retailer’s Regent Street launch

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Following a strong set of 2016 results, French contemporary group SMCP opened its 12th Sandro store in the UK on London’s Regent Street last month. CEO Jean-Philippe Hecquet discusses the launch and Sandro’s future plans.

People often refer to Parisian style as timeless, and it seems that contemporary brand Sandro’s particular blend of on-trend, accessible, quality French flavour is continuing to win fans.

Sandro is owned by SMCP, which also runs similarly chic French labels Maje and Claudie Pierlot. The group shows impressive results – for the year to 31 December group sales grew 16.4%, reaching €786m (£724m). EBITDA was up 22% to €130m (£120); and online sales surged by more than 80%, although individual brand results were not published.

Having opened a dedicated womenswear store in the former Swarovski unit at 137-139 Regent Street in central London on 25 August – its 12th store in the UK – as well as branches in Barcelona, Munich and Frankfurt this summer, Sandro’s CEO Jean-Philippe Hecquet discusses the London opening and the business’s future focus.

 

Why did you pick London’s Regent Street for your new UK store?

Regent Street is steeped in history, and has a unique street architecture. The building is shaped in the renowned Georgian style. It took us a few months to find but the priority was the location, not the timing. 

Tell us about the store.

Our store concept is very consistent from one store to another, but we always try to add some unique elements when we can. The store occupies 103 square meters (1,100 sq ft) and displays the brand’s womenswear and accessories collection. The space is sophisticated and combines rich and noble materials. The boutique is anchored by the monumental cash desk made of green “white beauty” marble, which contrasts with some vintage furniture and natural wood floors.

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Will you be looking for more UK stores?

The UK market is very strategic for Sandro. We are constantly on the lookout for new prime location stores. We are  excited about this new addition, and happy with the ones we already have such as Marylebone or Covent Garden, but if we hear about another amazing location, we won’t miss it. We constantly keep our eyes wide open.

Jean-Philippe Hecquet, CEO, Sandro

Jean-Philippe Hecquet, CEO, Sandro

Jean-Philippe Hecquet, CEO, Sandro

In terms of the collections, how are you staying relevant?

The [autumn 17] collection has a kind of vintage Victorian mood, and I‘m confident our customers will love it. On the product side, we are continuing our strategy of the accessory line by developing complete and creative ranges of accessories, especially leather goods and shoes. We don’t want to explore too many things at the same time. We take a step-by-step approach. We want to be as strong in leather goods and shoes as we are in ready-to-wear. Also, in 2018 we will launch an eyewear collection for both optical and sunglasses.

How is the premium market performing?

The accessible luxury market is growing fast and Sandro is one of the leading brands. I believe it is based on our creative power, our agility, our in-store service and our strong expansion plan – for example over the past two months, on top of Regent Street we opened three other flagships on Passeig de Gràcia in Barcelona, and in Munich and Frankfurt in Germany.

I believe it’s crucial to feed off the customer’s feedback and better understand their needs, while remaining creative and designing new pieces. To stay on top of it, one of our biggest strengths is that we listen to what our clients really want to wear and create accordingly.

How is the business performing generally?

The [autumn 17] collection is already a strong success, showing double digit like-for-like growth. In Europe, France is our homeland and Sandro keeps on being successful there. Italy and Spain are also big players. On an international level, the US and China are getting stronger every day. We also have strong faith in Dubai and Russia. We are very dynamic online – ecommerce has become our number one “store” in the world.

Sandro autumn 17

Sandro autumn 17

Sandro autumn 17

We launched women’s accessories in the spring 17 collection and the feedback is very positive. We made a strong online push, working with lots of influencers, and the results were incredible. We also have strong faith in Sandro Homme. [Menswear artistic director] Ilan Chétrite’s vision is very well received by the media, buyers and customers, and season after season Sandro Homme is growing. Now it’s about 20% of Sandro’s global income and it’s only the beginning.

Where are the opportunities for further growth?

We see a lot of opportunities for diversification, yet close to our brand DNA. Also, we believe in the international development and the growing of online business. Furthermore, we constantly want to increase our brand awareness, especially in new markets.

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