NEW YORK — With a soaring atrium at the entrance, Mediterranean-style trappings and its colorful, contemporary collection, Mango on Wednesday launched a Fifth Avenue flagship, revving up its U.S. expansion.
“This is a milestone for our company. It’s really a huge step in the history of Mango,” said Toni Ruiz, chief executive officer of the Barcelona-based fashion retailer.
“Today, we start a very ambitious plan of expansion.”
The company expects to have about 40 stores in the U.S. by 2024, with Florida next on the agenda. Stores are planned for Lincoln Road in South Beach, Miami; Town Center at Boca Raton; Aventura Mall in north Miami, and the Miami International Mall. They’re all expected to open in September and October this year. Stores are also seen opening in Orlando and Tampa.
In 2023, a third phase of expansion will take off, with openings expected in Atlanta, Phoenix, Houston, Dallas, Las Vegas, and California, where Los Angeles, San Diego and San Jose are targeted.
“We expect the U.S. market to become one of Mango’s top five markets by sales in 2024,” Ruiz said, addressing the media inside the Fifth Avenue flagship, alongside three of his top lieutenants — Margarita Salvans, chief financial officer; Daniel Lopez, director of expansion and franchises, and César de Vicente, global retail director — to demonstrate the team’s commitment to U.S. expansion.
“It’s true we are facing times of uncertainty, but our aim is to continue progressing the implementation of our strategy, Mango is in an optimum position to face the future by promoting our brand and our products,” Ruiz said. “To give some context, Mango closed 2021 with the highest results in almost a decade. In terms of turnover, we achieved more than 2.2 billion euros and we multiplied by three our EBITDA.”
Mango in March reported a net profit of 67 million euros for 2021, after losing money in pandemic-riddled 2020. Last year’s net was more than three times higher than the 2019 net of 21 million euros. Volume reached 2.23 billion euros, a 21.3 percent increase over the 1.84 billion euros generated in 2020, and close to 2019’s turnover of 2.37 billion euros.
Last year, 42 percent of Mango’s volume was generated online, though that percentage should drop a bit this year with in-person traffic at stores rising in the U.S. and other countries. Pre-pandemic, 26 percent of the volume came from online.
Ruiz and the other Mango executives emphasized that on the company’s growth path, technology is critical, as the retailer continues to grow the digital side of its business, roll out RFID, and explore the metaverse, among other advances. But they all said that such investments do not come at the expense of growing the brick-and-mortar side of the business, and data obtained through technology actually helps determine what areas are best suited for retail expansion. As de Vicente said, “We want to emphasize human contact.”
Mango opened its first store in the U.S. in 2006, in Manhattan’s SoHo, and currently, there are four other Mango stores in the metro area including the flagship, and in the Menlo Park Mall in New Jersey, the Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City, N.Y., and in the American Dream mega retail-entertainment complex in East Rutherford, N.J. There is also a Mango store operating in Miami’s Dadeland Mall.
“We love stores. They are key to our distribution ecosystem and our business growth development,” Ruiz said. “The U.S. is one of the most important markets for us, along with India and any other European market such as France, Italy, U.K. and Germany, and of course our main market which is Spain.”
It’s surprising that Mango, unlike other major European fashion retailers, notably Zara and H&M, has yet to establish an extensive foothold in the U.S. Maneuvers in America have seemed intermittent, with the biggest dating back to 2010 that involved opening 450 Mango shops inside J.C. Penney stores. The shops failed to resonate with Penney’s customers and were all closed by February 2016.
Mango also had shops inside three New York-area Macy’s stores, and those shops also closed, though the brand continues to sell on macys.com. Last February, Mango launched on nordstrom.com, and it is sold on Zappos.com.
To gain awareness in the U.S., Mango made a major investment in 2019 by sponsoring the Met Gala, though the Fifth Avenue flagship and subsequent Sunbelt openings will generate greater recognition for the brand. And Mango just signed a five-year agreement with Parsons School of Design to provide $250,000 in scholarships and course development for students in the fashion management program. Mango personnel will participate in courses, providing its business, technology and fashion expertise.
Of Mango’s more than 2,400 stores globally, 800 are corporate-owned; the rest are franchised. In the U.S., the plan, as it stands now, is for all stores to be company-owned, though executives said there could be some flexibility.
While the U.S. is seen rising to Mango’s fifth-largest market in terms of volume, it currently ranks 10th. Executives declined to break out any volumes by country, or project a volume for the Fifth Avenue flagship.
Mango’s first store opened in 1984 in Barcelona. International expansion began in 1994 with stores in Portugal. The next year, Mango entered Asia.
Mango’s three-level, 22,600-square-foot Manhattan flagship, situated at 711 Fifth Avenue, wraps around the northeast corner of 55th Street and is on the site of Ralph Lauren’s former Polo store.
“This building is considered a ‘grand dame,'” observed de Vicente. “It dates back to the 1920s and was the headquarters for several important companies.”
The historic building, owned by the Shvo real estate firm, previously served as headquarters of NBC, Columbia Pictures and Coca-Cola. A portion of the building houses the Polo Bar, Ralph Lauren’s restaurant and bar, on the ground floor and lower level with an entrance on 55th Street. The Core Club, a private club with affluent members, in late December inked a long-term lease for four levels at 711 Fifth Avenue. The building has a total of 56,000 square feet.
The Fifth Avenue flagship incorporates Mango’s “New Med” concept, launched in 2021 and seen in a handful of other Mango flagships in Europe. It’s all about configuring the space as if it were a Mediterranean home designed with arches to separate different areas. It has four large windows on Fifth affording natural light and views into the interior, and terraces on the upper floors.
“The store has a clean and clear design to make it easy to shop,” observed de Vicente. “It’s very fluid.”
Throughout the flagship there are ceramic vases, terrazzo floor pads, raffia area rugs, and other decorative elements and visuals evoking the Mediterranean lifestyle. A large screen shows the architecture of a seaside villa at different times of the day. The fitting rooms are spacious, and have organic cotton curtains.
The first two levels house the women’s merchandise, and the third level is for menswear, where there is a tailoring station, and soon to come, a BOPIS section, for pickup and returns of online orders.
On level two, overlooking Fifth Avenue, there are two bright terrace areas with tall, arched windows allowing plenty of natural light in. One area displays a grouping of women’s denim, crochet sweaters and dresses, all in white; the other has accessories and home products.
For service, associates have been equipped with hand-held devices providing information on merchandise availability and customers, and there are wrap desks and fitting rooms on all floors. The flagship has 50 employees, including sales associates and management. Mango has been getting deeper into analytics and “deep learning” technology, combined with RFID technology, to supply data to store staff so they can better manage inventory.
In creating the Mango flagship, the intent was to minimize the environmental impact. About 70 percent of the materials used in the project were from what was already on the site, so for example, the oak wood floors have been restored, and the gold-leaf framing around the windows has been retained. In addition, toward the rear of the store, there is a “Committed Box” by the wrap desk where customers can deposit their used clothing and footwear, which the company either donates or recycles, and it doesn’t have to be only Mango merchandise.
The flagship for 10 days gets into the metaverse by exhibiting five NFTs on screens situated side-by-side to the original artworks of three renowned Spanish artists. Mango’s five NFTs are not static, and incorporate avatars modeling various Mango garments currently available in the store, reinterpreting two works by Joan Miró (“Oiseau volant vers le soleil” and “Tète et Oiseau”), two by Antoni Tàpies (“Ulls i Creu” and “Esgrafiats”) and one work by Miquel Barceló (“Dilatation”). The original artwork and the NFTs are owned by Mango.
“Through these new projects, Mango is coming into contact with new target markets so that we can understand how younger consumers interact in these environments,” said Jordi Álex, Mango’s director of technology, data, privacy and security.
In addition to the five artworks in NFT format, Mango has developed four wearables that will go on sale. These are four digital garments, and virtual sunglasses inspired by traditional Mango styles.
The retailer developed a wearable POAP (Proof of Attendance Protocol), a type of NFT that accredits attendance at an event. This badge will not go on sale, but will be given to those attending the physical and virtual store opening event, so that their avatars in the metaverse can display it.
The company has also launched unisex commemorative sweats and T-shirts for the opening of the Fifth Avenue store.
Mango is a vertical retailer, meaning it designs, develops and markets its products, all of which bear the Mango label. The company works with over 1,000 suppliers around the world, and recently shifted some sourcing to Europe due to the pandemic forcing slowdowns in Asia and the other supply chain bottlenecks that all retailers have been experiencing.
Mango breaks out two major collections a year, for spring and fall, which continually get refreshed with new items. According to de Vicente, new products will arrive to the flagship twice a week, but, as one executive explained, the retailer should not be confused or associated with “fast fashion” because each year the core of the business revolves around its twice-annual seasonal collections.
Among some of the key items and trends this season are maxi dresses, linen, occasion wear especially blazers, and boho-inspired pieces. Overall, it’s a moderate-to-better priced collection, with $150 the average ticket price, and the range primarily from $30 to $250.
“Mango is fashion, Mango is femininity. Mango is color. Mango is happiness. We are a brand born in the Mediterranean. We translate big fashion trends into our own language,” said Ruiz.
“Mango Woman is the main pillar for our business,” added CFO Salvans, noting that men’s, kids, babies, teens and home lines are also offered. The fashion targets women between 24 and 45 years old, urban populations and those seeking contemporary styling.
“We are very clear about our DNA and what makes us different,” said Salvans.
The Fifth Avenue flagship is Mango’s second-largest store, the largest being the Milan flagship, which stands at 25,800 square feet.
“Depending on the city, it could be in a shopping center or on a high street. We are not considering shops-in-shop, at least for now,” de Vicente, who has been directing Mango’s retail operations for 25 years, said of the retailer’s store opening plans.
Regarding the size of future stores, he said, “It depends a lot on the market. We have very important large flagships all over the world. We have other concepts at 400 or 600 square meters in very good shopping centers. There are different models. But I am really proud of our new Fifth Avenue flagship. It’s like a dream come true.
“To do this expansion for the next three years we really believe in the American market,” said de Vicente. “We have high potential here. It starts with New York. It’s an opening that is very important for our brand awareness. The collection is ready. The team is ready. We have everything to succeed here in the United States.”