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Europe Watch: Inditex Promotion … Timely Manners … Nature Calls

<STRONG>INDITEX PROMOTION:</STRONG> Inditex said Friday the company would reorganize its top management, with Jose Maria Castellano, its chief executive, becoming vice chairman. A spokesman called the shakeup “preparation for expansion plans. The...

INDITEX PROMOTION: Inditex said Friday the company would reorganize its top management, with Jose Maria Castellano, its chief executive, becoming vice chairman. A spokesman called the shakeup “preparation for expansion plans. The company will create a number of new management divisions. We want to double the size of the company over the next five years.” Amancio Ortega, the company’s founder, will remain chairman, the spokesman added.

Meanwhile, Inditex unit Massimo Dutti is on the march in key European markets, with openings planned in the first half in Lille, Strasbourg and Lyon, France; Bologna, Italy; London, and Dublin. The Inditex-owned chain of classic and casual apparel operates upward of 310 stores in 25 countries. Most are company-owned with franchising agreements only in Portugal, the Benelux countries, Mexico and the Middle East. Dutti also recently opened a third Paris location, its most impressive, which wraps around the Polo Ralph Lauren flagship on Place de la Madeleine. But despite all the European action, there are as yet no concrete plans to export the concept to the U.S. Covadonga Alonso, head of Inditex’s press office at the Barcelona headquarters, said its short-term overseas strategy for Dutti is in keeping with “a strong and continuous expansion program similar to the rest of Inditex’s divisions. We don’t necessarily follow the same game plan sketched out for Zara.”

Zara represents about 70 percent of Inditex’s global turnover, while Massimo Dutti adds about 9 percent. — Barbara Barker

TIMELY MANNERS: A watch that runs fast is not normally a good thing, but after a difficult 2003, Swiss watch exports posted a record, with 2004 sales up 9.2 percent to 11.1 billion Swiss francs, or $13.36 billion at current exchange. Exports of finished watches made the strongest gains, their value up 9.9 percent to 10.2 billion Swiss francs, or $12.27 billion, according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry. The biggest market for Swiss watches was the U.S., up 12.9 percent to 1.87 billion Swiss francs, or $2.25 billion, followed by Hong Kong, up 15.6 percent to 1.64 billion Swiss francs, or $1.97 billion. The fastest-growing market was China, which bounded 41.7 percent to 279.5 million Swiss francs, or $336.4 million. In Europe, exports increased 2.7 percent on average, with Italy leading the market. Looking ahead, the federation expects exports to continue to increase in 2005. — Emilie Marsh

This story first appeared in the February 7, 2005 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

NATURE CALLS: What does nature have to do with luxury? Visitors to the 2005 World Exposition in Aichi, Japan, this spring will find out. Louis Vuitton is planning a 540-square-foot installation with a facade of 4,000 tiles made of sea salt. Vuitton says the idea is to draw people’s attention to the numerous uses for the planet’s natural resources. The exhibit, which bows March 25 and runs through Sept. 25, also features a video portraying Louis Vuitton’s efforts to reduce carbon monoxide pollution and other nature-friendly efforts. — E.M.