That’s what Financo Inc. intends to convey at its annual forum today at the Harmonie Club, 4 East 60th Street, even though mobile technology and online sales dominated the retail dialogue last year.
“Stores remain the showcase for brands,” said Colin Welch, Financo’s president and chief operating officer. “People aren’t talking enough about the future of stores, which are critical to the lifestyle positioning that many brands seek to achieve.”
Financo forums have a history of taking some interesting turns and today’s installment should be no exception. Financo’s chairman Gilbert Harrison, chief executive officer John Berg and Welch want to keep the agenda focused on stores and how they will evolve, on how online and mobile technologies can support the brick-and-mortar business and the convergence of the channels. They also expect the panelists to tackle such topics as global growth and which regions are ripe, and “high-low” shopping, which is about consumers creating outfits that mix couture looks with moderate styles, like a Chanel jacket and an H&M jean, to reflect more of their personal style.
The Financo executives pointed out in an interview at their Madison Avenue offices last week that stores will always account for the lion’s share of retail revenues. It’s estimated at roughly 90 percent currently and the rate of online sales growth, while still robust, began to slow last year. According to ComScore Inc., which tracks the digital world, online sales gains for the November to December period rose a healthy 13.8 percent but came in short of the 16 percent expected.
In a break from the past, the Financo Forum won’t feature the usual retail suspects. This year’s panel will include Paul Blum, the new ceo of Juicy Couture who is charged with reinvigorating the once red-hot label; Lew Frankfort, chairman and ceo of Coach Inc., who was ranked 21st on the Harvard Business Review’s list of the best-performing ceo’s in the world, and Eric Wiseman, chairman, president and ceo of VF Corp., one of the best-run fashion conglomerates with about two dozen brands under its umbrella including The North Face, Wrangler, Lee and Timberland.
Danny Meyer, founder and ceo of the Union Square Hospitality Group, will be on the panel as well. He’s been rolling out Shake Shacks, and has a portfolio of fine-dining establishments including the Modern, Gramercy Tavern and Maialino, a Roman-style trattoria in the Gramercy Park Hotel. On the surface, Meyer seems like a choice out of left field for the Financo Forum, though Harrison emphasized that food and restaurants are becoming more important to retail settings. Whether it’s ABC Carpet & Home or Applebee’s, service, hospitality and the experience are key ingredients.
In another break from the past, Sagra Maceira de Rosen, a strategy and investment adviser and author of “The Towering World of Jimmy Choo,” will moderate the group, instead of Harrison. But he will step up to the plate during the Q&A portion, directing questions from the audience and possibly throwing out some zingers of his own.
The 23-year-old Financo Forum will be packed with 275 industry executives, including more than 100 ceo’s. “Almost 70 percent of the attendees are at the c-suite level, compared to 50 percent last year,” Welch said. “Our international representation, about 15 percent of the audience, includes c-level executives of leading retailers from the U.K., Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Australia, Saudi Arabia, China and Canada.”
The by-invitation-only event starts at 4:30 p.m. with the panel and winds up with a cocktail hour.
London’s newly opened @designmuseum will look back on the life and work of Azzedine Alaïa in a show that the designer helped to curate before he died of heart failure last month. The retrospective, which Alaïa had worked on with Mark Wilson, chief curator of the @groningermuseum, will look at the impact of his work worldwide. The show, “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier,” will run from May 10 to October 7. Read more about the exhibit on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @zefashioninsider)
@Pharrell and his wife Helen Lasichanh were among the stars that came out to celebrate @rimowa’s first pop-up concept shop. The space, which is located on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, draws inspiration from airport luggage carousels and lounge areas – and features the company’s luggage and accessories. If the pop-up is successful it could pave the way for addition temporary shops throughout the world. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA)
@carineroitfeld celebrated @crfashionbook’s first calendar last night with a dinner party at Spring Place in Manhattan. Photographed by @stevenkleinstudio, the calendar takes on a fitness theme and features @joansmalls, @gigihadid, @danielle_herrington_ – pictured here – and more. “[Carine Roitfeld] wanted me to feel sexy and she wanted me to be myself and feel it out on my own and do what I felt was right,” said Herrington, aka Miss October. #wwdeye
@saintrecords and @virgilabloh last night at @americanexpress’ “A Night With Success Makers” event. “I always bring it back to community because without that I wouldn’t have the courage,” said Knowles when asked how she has gotten where she is now. Read more highlights from their conversation on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @lizdoupnik)
This Just In: Industry sources have told WWD that Anastasia Soare is rumored to be considering selling her beauty business, @anastasiabeverlyhills. According to those sources, Soare has tapped investment bank Imperial Capital to explore sale options for her eponymous beauty brand –– and with at least $340 million in net sales, this would be a big deal. Put in context of other recent transactions for makeup companies, Soare’s price tag could be in the billions if she were to sell the whole thing. #wwdnews #wwdbeauty (📷: @clint_spaulding)
@assouline’s latest book, “The Spirit of Bentley: Be Extraordinary” captures the adventurous attitudes and opulent lifestyles of @bentleymotors’ most creative owners and enthusiasts throughout the U.K. The 292-page hardcover has a section dedicated to showing its team of skilled artisans and photos of its most colorful owners, from George Bamford to designer @alicetemperley, pictured here by Aline Coquelle. #wwdeye
@google released its report on the most popular search terms this year. For fashion brands, the list was led by @gucci, the luxury brand that stunned the market last October when it pledged to stop using fur. Runner ups were @supremenewyork and @fashionnova, along with more established brands like @louisvuitton, @chanelofficial and @ysl. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)