The European retailers in high global demand

 —  Article by Emily Hodson

Many of today’s biggest and most popular names in luxury fashion – not to mention fast fashion – hail from Europe.

From Adidas to Zara, more than 70 percent of the world’s top 240 international retailers have European roots yet have built a comprehensive network of stores around the world to match their global fan base, JLL’s Destination Retail report reveals.

“European retailers continue to have a strong presence in the global retail landscape and, as more of these brands look internationally to drive sales and diversify, retail expansion is here to stay,” says Jonathan Bayfield, senior retail research analyst, JLL.

In developing markets it’s the fast growing middle classes from Beijing and Jakarta in Asia Pacific, to Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the Middle East, and a number of Latin American capitals that are boosting growth for European retailers. Meanwhile, mature retail markets such as London, Paris, New York and Hong Kong remain prime shopping destinations for increasing number of visitors and important locations for retailers to maintain a strong presence.

However, with political and economic uncertainties creating waves at home, European retailers need to have the right international growth strategy in place. “The uncertain economic outlook and the growth of e-commerce in Western Europe is leading to a growing need for brands to continue to expand internationally in the right locations to achieve balanced sales growth,” adds Bayfield.

Find out which European brands are the top international players in the new, global world of retail.

Hugo Boss retail shop front

Hugo Boss – Germany

The 92-year-old German luxury fashion house first started making its famous men’s suits in 1950 and is now Europe’s most successful retail brand export. It is fourth in the global list of international retailers with the biggest global presence with stores in 91 percent of the world’s 140 leading retail cities.

Hugo Boss retail shop front
Zara retail shop front

Zara – Spain  

Born with the name ‘Zorba’, this international high street stalwart became Zara to distinguish itself from a nearby bar in the Spanish town of Galicia, where it first set up shop. The retailer began its cross-border expansion journey in Portugal in 1989 and now has a presence in 89 per cent of the world’s top shopping 140 cities, with flagship stores on New York’s Fifth Avenue, London’s Oxford Street and the Champs-Élysées in Paris, among others. It ranks fifth in the global list.

“Spain has many successes in exporting retail brands globally,” says Bayfield. “Inditex, the parent company of Zara, has many strong brands which have over 7000 stores globally, including Zara Home, Massimo Dutti and Bershka.”
Zara retail shop front
Swatch retail shop front

Swatch – Switzerland

The history of Swatch is a true phoenix-from-the-ashes tale. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the value of Swiss craftsmanship was thrown into disarray as competition from Asia more than halved the number of jobs in Switzerland and reduced the market share of Swiss watchmakers by more than 40 percent. Spotting an opportunity, Swatch – a contraction of ‘Second Watch’ – turned the traditional timepiece on its head, moving away from the traditional luxury jewellery product towards a new range of affordable plastic watches.

Today, Swatch is one of Europe’s most successful exports with a presence in 87 percent of global retail markets and is the 6th most expansive retailer globally.
Swatch retail shop front
Louis Vuitton retail shop front

Louis Vuitton – French

Louis Vuitton Malletier, often shortened to LV, was founded in 1854 and is headquartered in Paris, France. It is one of the world’s leading international luxury fashion brands and has been frequently named the world’s most valuable luxury brand by Forbes.

Its famous LV monogram appears on most of its products, which are sold through standalone boutiques, concessions in high-end department stores and online. The brand has a presence in 86 percent of the 140 cities analyzed.

Its home country has a long tradition of creating high end goods. “The strength of premium and luxury retailing in France, through the likes of Louis Vuitton, Cartier and Hermes, places it fourth in the Destination Retail ranking for countries exporting their brands to the rest of the world,” adds Bayfield.

Louis Vuitton retail shop front
The body shop retail shop front

The Body Shop – Britain

Founded in 1976 in the UK by Anita Roddick, The Body Shop was bought out by French cosmetics company L’Oréal 30 years later in 2006. Born in a car body shop, the brand has expanded all over the globe and ranks 8th of the global list with an 86 percent presence in the 140 top retail cities, according to Destination Retail.

The body shop retail shop front
H&M retail shop front

H&M – Sweden

H&M (Hennes & Mauritz) is a multinational fast-fashion company from Sweden and one of the world’s biggest clothing retailers. Originally specializing in women’s clothes (“hennes” means “hers” in Swedish), the retailer later incorporated menswear after the acquisition of Mauritz Widforss in 1968.

After stepping out of Scandinavia into the UK in 1976, it has become a staple on high streets around the world and has a presence in 85 percent of the 240 cities analyzed in the ranking. This puts in 9th among international retailers.

H&M retail shop front
adidas retail shop front

Adidas – Germany

The multinational company, headquartered in Bavaria, has grown to be the largest manufacturer of sports clothing and accessories in Europe and the second largest in the world since it was first registered in 1949. Although football has always been one of its key sports its clothing brands stretch from running to cricket and skateboarding. Ranking 10th among international retailers on the world stage, it has stores in 82 percent of the 140 top markets covered in Destination Retail and 100 percent coverage for those in Asia Pacific.

adidas retail shop front
burberry retail shop front

Burberry – British

The British luxury fashion house was founded in 1856 by 21-year-old former draper’s apprentice Thomas Burberry. Since opening the first store in Basingstoke, England, the distinctive check pattern and iconic trench coat have gone global and the retailer now has stores in 76 percent of the 140 top shopping markets globally. Holding joint 14th place in the international rankings, famous fans include Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn and Ronald Reagan.

burberry retail shop front
Mont Blanc retail ship front

Montblanc - Germany

Founded in 1906 in Hamburg, Montblanc’s main product was the fountain pen. In the decades that followed it has added watches, jewellery, fragrances, eyewear and leather goods to the brand, which have helped to transform it into one of Germany’s most successful retail exports. Today it’s part of the Richemont group where sister brands include Chloé and Cartier. Sitting in joint 14th place among the international retailers it is present in 76 percent in the top retail markets.

Mont Blanc retail ship front
Diesel retail shop front

Diesel – Italian

Based in Breganze, Italy, Diesel is an Italian clothing company founded in 1978 by Renzo Rosso. Best known for its denim it has also established a number of product lines with other global brands including the sunglasses line Diesel Eyewear in partnership with Marcolin, the jewels and watches line Diesel Watches in partnership with Fossil and its fragrance line with L’Oreal.

“Italy is the number one European exporter of retailers globally, accounting for 17 per cent of total international retailer presence in the 140 cities globally,” concludes Bayfield. “While Diesel is the highest place Italian retailer, at 17th globally and 10th in Europe, the lion’s share of the country’s strength sits with its premium luxury retailers which include Max Mara, Emporio Armani, Gucci and Emenegildo Zegna.”

Diesel retail shop front
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