Mamas and Papas identifying global multi-channel opportunities
Ahead of speaking at The Retail Bulletin International Expansion Summit 2014 on March 25th, Tim Maule, deputy chief executive of Mamas and Papas, outlined his company’s continued expansion overseas that involves selecting the right channel for each market.
“We started trading around the world five years ago in a small way and now we’re now in 59 countries through a variety of channels – franchising, distribution partners, and trading direct with retail chains. We choose the model that works best in the market, where there is the most potential,” he says.
In China the franchise route has been taken and around 100 stores are scheduled to open. It is the same in Russia where 25 units are planned with its franchise partner in that country. In contrast Maule says franchising is uncommon in the US and so Mamas and Papas supplies direct to retailers including Babies R Us in that market.
The company now benefits from an increasing acceptance of the brand overseas that Maule says is being helped by people travelling to the UK and experiencing its 67 UK stores.
The Middle East is another franchised market and represents a solid growth opportunity: “It’s a mature store estate related to the acceptance of the brand and the economy that goes from strength to strength.”
Such is the strength in the region that Maule reveals that the recent Jeddah store opening in Saudi Arabia enjoyed a first weekend performance that exceeded that of any of the previous openings in the territory.
Site selection remains a vitally important element in the expansion story – just as it does in the UK - as it is easy to be “lured by the quick roll out” story and pick sites that prove to be in the wrong place, he suggests.
The proposition also largely remains the same as in the UK – with some tweaks. “The core remains the same but in each market there is some localisation based on culture and trends. If a product category is not appealing then we’ll not put it in,” he says citing that UK cots and cot beds as being too big for the Asian markets as their apartments are too small to house them.
Changes to the proposition also emanate from the UK and are distributed into all overseas markets. The new store at Trinity Leeds incorporated many new elements and the most successful ones are now being injected into the group’s international outlets.
The UK consumer’s increasing appetite for multi-channel shopping is also being replicated around the world and Mamas and Papas now expects its franchise partners to have an online presence – that adheres very closely to the brand values inherent in its physical store estate.
Where the company supplies direct to retailers Maule says Mamas and Papas runs its own online stores, which are run to complement the retailers’ stores. “We take an omni-channel view, working with our retail partners. Customers will often look at our site and then buy in the stores. If they buy from Babies R US then we’re thrilled and if they buy online with us then we are also thrilled,” he explains.
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