Almost two years after LCR Jeans, the company that previously held the license for Lee Cooper stores locally, filed for insolvency, the British jeans manufacturer has signed a new partnership for the Romanian market, this time with the shareholders of Kenvelo.
Eight new Lee Cooper stores have been opened so far this autumn, some of which occupy the premises previously used by LCR Jeans, and another ten should be opened next year. The target is to reach 30 shops by the end of 2013, said Phillippe Besadoux, CEO of Kenvelo Romania. The number is similar to the total units operated by LCR Jeans in 2008, prior to the financial crisis.
The denim brand’s expansion will be supported by the existing Kenvelo logistics and management platform, said Besadoux, adding that the pace of expansion is sustainable as Lee Cooper is a popular brand in Romania and consumption will pick up.
The investment in opening such a store is around EUR 100,000 with the money coming solely from the firm’s own funds, said the CEO. He revealed that the company estimates a turnover of around EUR 4,000 per sqm next year for its units.
Five of the existing Lee Cooper branches are located in Bucharest and the rest are in Constanta – two outlets – and Oradea. A ninth store will be opened in Craiova by yearend. Expansion will start from large cities and continue in smaller ones, said Besadoux, adding that the company is looking to be in all major shopping centers.
“Shopping malls respect you more when you have three brands,” said Besadoux, adding that this makes negotiation with retail centers easier.
In addition to getting the Lee Cooper license, Kenvelo shareholders have also signed a joint venture this autumn for the German Tom Tailor brand. Besadoux added that the company intends to use its existing platform and knowledge of the local market to bring new fashion brands to Romania. “We also have the big advantage of production in China,” he added.
The local Kenvelo stores are expected to post a turnover of around EUR 25 million this year, similar to last year’s figure. However, the business returned to profit in 2011, after about 25 stores from the network were closed in the past couple of years, said Besadoux. At present there are 52 Kenvelo shops in Romania. While the company is constantly looking at expansion, the business approach continues to be cautious, said the CEO. “The crisis is not over and many will fall down again,” he predicted.
Besadoux became CEO of Kenvelo Romania at the end of 2008 after previously working as CFO of the Kenvelo Group, which has operations mainly in Central and Eastern Europe.