Set against the UK’s hefty population, Sweden’s 9,415,000 (2011 census) doesn’t sound very much.
Address Götgatan 30, Södermalm, Stockholm
Total stores 175 operational in Five countries
Except that the country is not far off being twice the size of Blighty and is the home of Abba, Ikea, Volvo, H&M, Björn Borg and, of course, Gina Tricot. Gina Tricot?
Yup, Gina Tricot, “Scandinavia’s fastest- growing fashion retailer for women”, or so the website informs its visitors. This is a chain with outposts across the whole of Scandinavia and Finland, plus branches in 10 German cities.
It’s cheap, by the standards of wallet-voiding Stockholm, and deals in disposable fashion. Fashion retail followers should be giving it the twice over. If it arrived in the UK it would attract attention and followers for its distinctly idiosyncratic take on white box and for the manner in which it seems able to capture just about every trend in women’s fashion.
01 - VISUAL MERCHANDISING
‘NEW FASHION EVERY DAY’ is the legend that greets the Gina Tricot visitor as the passage is made beyond the arcade windows and into the shop proper. There is a long shopfront with four windows at ground floor level and five on the floor above. The logo is a simple white reversed out of black in a lower-case font and this simplicity is reflected in the windows that are, for the most part, boxed in and washed in coloured light. At the moment, the window campaign urges shoppers to ‘hit the soft tones’ - meaning pastels for spring 12.
Inside the shop, the same clarity is evident throughout, whether it’s the platinum-wigged groups of mannequins or the wall modules, each of which tell a simple story.
02 - CONCEPT
Many retailers make a habit of taking a perfectly decent old building and then attempting to turn it into something different, but Gina Tricot, which uses all the architectural elements that were already in place, adds a walk-round balcony that allows shoppers on the first floor to take a look at the action on the floor below.
This is a white box interior that allows the stock to do the talking. Clean lines and a well-lit interior make this worth visiting.
03 - SERVICE
The staff were very busy - a lot of weekend shoppers were inspecting the wares. As prices are low, this is about high turnover speed. That said, if help was needed, it seemed to be on hand, and at the cash desk on the ground floor, whenever there was a danger of a queue building up, another member of staff seemed to materialise without being summoned.
This seems like a well-oiled machine where everybody knows what needs to be done. Quietly efficient.
04 - PRODUCT
Sorbets, pastels, black and white and a comprehensive accessories offer meant that shoppers were finding styles that were being given serious consideration. Gina Tricot seems to touch most of the bases as far as this season’s fashion essentials are concerned and there is sufficient depth within each story for outfit building to be straightforward, and while this may be a Swedish brand, this does not mean it is expensive. Gina Tricot offers an alternative to the ubiquitous H&M.
05 - COMPETITION
In general, Stockholm is not a place you come to if you want to watch the pennies and pounds - which may well account for there being an H&M on almost every corner. Once you’ve done H&M, it’s normally a case of choosing a Swedish brand - perhaps Gudrun Sjödén, Svea or Valerie - and then paying the price.
Gina Tricot does for young(er) women’s fashion what Ikea does for furniture - it makes Swedish style accessible and the look is distinctive enough to see off competitors. But whether it’s strong enough to tackle the H&M behemoth is a moot point.
06 - VERDICT - ONE TO WATCH
With the exception of a few large German cities, this is a retailer that will be largely unknown outside Scandinavia and, more particularly, beyond Sweden. Yet the combination of an appealing store interior, the ability to capture the fashion zeitgeist and pricing that puts it within reach means Gina Tricot has the potential to become a major European player. The business was established in 1997 and therefore remains relatively youthful, but the speed at which it has spread its wings make this one to watch.