LONDON — Forever 21 is expanding its footprint in the U.K.
This story first appeared in the August 1, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Last week, the brand unveiled an additional 6,300 square feet of space at its Oxford Street store here — the space now stands at 39,000 square feet — and has added a store in Manchester, northern England, to its U.K. portfolio.
Linda Chang, global marketing director at Forever 21, said the extended space in the Oxford Street store has allowed the company to display more product from popular categories, such as accessories and lingerie, along with Forever 21’s cosmetics, which are new to the U.K.
Chang said that it’s Forever 21’s most on-trend items that have been a hit with British shoppers. “What we’ve found is that the U.K. customer adopts trends very quickly, so it’s really pushed us to really take that fast-fashion element and react very quickly,” said Chang, noting that turnaround has been a “challenge,” as the company is based in Los Angeles. “But it’s been exciting to see how the trends happen [in the U.K.] so quickly, and then you see them [happening] a little bit later in other markets.”
To capitalize on London’s appetite for trends, the retailer will launch a holiday collection in November that’s exclusive to its Oxford Street and Fifth Avenue, New York, stores, made up of pieces such as tweed biker jackets, sweaters embellished with pearl details and fake-fur jackets. “These are items that we felt were fashion-forward [and] we thought that the New York and the London customers would respond to,” said Chang.
Meanwhile, over the weekend, Forever 21 unveiled its new Manchester store in the Trafford Centre mall, just outside the city. “[Manchester] has been a location we’ve been looking at for the past couple of years, so when we first decided to come into the U.K., it had been top of mind for us,” said Chang. “[The Trafford Centre] being one of the biggest malls in the U.K., we felt that it was definitely a priority location for us. It gets great traffic [and] it’s a very fashion-forward customer that’s there, so it fits right into our profile.”
Chang said she expects the 20,000-square-foot Manchester store to become Forever 21’s second-largest in the U.K. in terms of volume, with the Oxford Street unit the firm’s best-performing U.K. store. While Chang declined to discuss sales figures for the Oxford Street store, she noted that “even with the challenges of the market, we have been seeing an upturn in our sales [at Oxford Street].” Forever 21 also has U.K. stores in Birmingham, the Midlands and the Westfield Stratford mall in east London, and will open in the Bluewater mall, in Kent, in August and the Lakeside shopping center, in Essex, in early 2013.
Next up, the company is set to open stores in Beijing and Shanghai, its first in Mainland China, in August and September, respectively. Before the end of the year, a store will open in Scotland, along with a further store in Paris and a unit on Lincoln Road, Miami, in August.