PARIS — As it prepares to celebrate its 25th anniversary next year, French contemporary brand Zadig & Voltaire has laid out an ambitious growth plan for 2022-2025, which includes a major push in China.
At a presentation in Paris, chief executive officer Rémy Baume, who took up his position last year, said the rock-chic label posted consolidated revenues of 292 million euros in its 2020-2021 fiscal year, which ended in July.
“The brand has been accelerating and pivoting — to a new level of visibility, of recognition, of desirability across the world. The circumstances of COVID-19 have [led us] to be in advance on our roadmap,” he said.
By 2025, the brand aims to hit 550 million euros in turnover, with Baume outlining the four growth pillars that will support this progression, particularly in China. While he did not specify figures for its year-on-year growth between 2019 and 2021, he indicated that the company did not post losses in 2020, despite store closures and lockdowns.
Baume pinpointed the progression of its accessories, which account for 35 percent of sales worldwide — 50 percent of overall sales in Europe, 35 percent in the U.S. and much less in other markets — as a sign of the brand’s power and presence among luxury labels, although he added that founder Thierry Gillier’s vision of “relaxed luxury” still stood.
One immediately visible area of growth is its digital business, which now represents 23 percent of the turnover for the 2021 fiscal year, up from around 15 percent in 2019.
Baume expects this figure to grow to 30 percent of the business, but to be less an “enlarged [footprint] than a deepening of these activities,” dubbing this a “move from omnichannel to ‘no-channel’ because the goal is to create a fluid, seamless customer journey regardless of their point of entry.” Initiatives in this field will include live shopping, although the executive declined revealing timelines or specifics.
With 60 percent of its business happening in store, particular attention will continue to be paid to its retail network, with plans to open 140 stores by 2025.
“Physical experience is primordial and the sensory life happens in stores,” the executive noted, showcasing a number of recent renovations or new flagship implantations, such as its King’s Road boutique in London; the revamped space at Paris’ Le Bon Marché, which saw the retail surface doubled from its previous iterations; and a brand new store in Wuhan, China.
This marks a new push by Zadig & Voltaire in China, which currently represents less than 5 percent of its sales. Previously, international expansion had been concentrated on the United States, which now accounts for 25 percent of the business, a result Baume described as “remarkable for a French label on a complex market.”
“Between now and 2025, we want to grow from 16 to 60 stores [in China], because it represents the right level of visibility and facilitates access to the Chinese customer,” he said, adding that its digital presence would also grow to expand beyond T-mall, where Zadig & Voltaire has been present for a year.
Baume noted that the brand’s pricing, which is in step with its price range in Europe — around 400 euros for leather goods and averaging 350 to 400 euros for ready-to-wear — placed it favorably in a market where imported brands often have heavy markups.
Zadig & Voltaire is also restructuring its operations in the region, having purchased the 50 percent share that belonged to its former partner IT Group last September. The recruitment of a new and autonomous team, based in Shanghai and led by Jean Lahire, a Hong-Kong based executive who previously helmed Delvaux and Celine’s Asian developments, is near complete.
The brand plans to focus on communication to “make itself understood, in a way that suits the Chinese worldview,” according to Baume, who revealed that an upcoming fashion show would be held in China.
To mark these new developments, the company has also updated its Chinese name to “Sadigé,” dropping an earlier double-barreled transliteration in favor of a simpler three-character “androgynous and gender neutral” moniker, using characters that expressed “a cool, chic and stylish woman,” and making references to “fashion, the Parisian universe, style and good taste.”
For its corporate social responsibility axis, the executive presented a snapshot of the progress to date, which includes transport by air reduced by 46 percent since 2019; use of certified or durable materials, including 100 percent of cashmere and wool made with sustainable or regenerated fibers as of fall 2022, and women representing 54 percent of its executive committee.
Baume also announced the launch of the “VoltAIRe” program, focusing on air quality and carbon footprint reduction as a priority. “Our program is global and is about creating a focal point [on specific topics] because these are programs with a five- or 10-year timeline,” he said.