PARIS — Naf Naf may be on the block, as its ailing parent, fashion group Vivarte, announced in January. But that doesn’t mean the brand’s executive team is in dormant mode. Instead, under the direction of chief executive officer Luc Mory, the French fashion chain has been testing an innovative pop-up retail space on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées here that’s hooked on a cash register-free, omnichannel concept inspired by luxury hotel brands.
Dubbed Naf Naf Room Service, the ephemeral store, with its bespoke scent and soundtrack, and girly retro décor including boudoir-inspired changing rooms, is based on a 100 percent delivery concept, where even customers who make purchases leave empty handed. Only an edited selection of garments from the brand’s premium lines is on offer, with iPad-wielding store assistants on hand to take orders.
It’s a formula that seems to work. Despite focusing on around one-third of the brand’s total collection, the average basket has doubled compared to the label’s traditional stores, according to Mory, who has been steering a “soft turnaround” of Naf Naf, which had its heyday in the Nineties. The plan going forward, he said, is to orient the brand toward a more quality-based service, both in terms of product and brand experience, offering a more tailored service with more of a “human” dimension.
“It’s about creating an atmosphere. [The retail scene] is getting a little boring. There’s a banalization in terms of approach, with more and more of the same product, the same merchandising, especially with the high-street brands,” continued Mory, adding that the success of the laboratory store, which also features a fun hologram window installation, will influence the Naf Naf’s retail development going forward. “The quality of the product and experience, and the quality of the relationship with the people promoting the brand – this will be absolutely key in our strategy in the future.”
Internationally Naf Naf counts around 500 points of sale in total, including 220 branded stores in France and a subsidiary in Spain, which registered a double-digit like-for-lik revenue increase in 2016 despite being on the home territory of Inditex, according to Mory. Outside of Europe, Latin America is among the brand’s strongest markets, with approximately 100 points of sale. Naf Naf has no presence in Asia or North America but is in talks with a partner for distribution in Canada, he said.
In terms of new owners, Mory said he expects a change in shareholders to take place by the end of the year. Naf Naf has been approached by a number of potential suitors, but “mainly from outside of France,” he said. “American and English and several Asian companies, from China in particular, who are very interested in buying the brand and developing the concept in China.”