Many North American retailers have built a worldwide presence to cater for a growing global fan base fueled by population growth, rapid urbanization and an increasingly affluent middle class.
U.S.-based companies dominate the global retail landscape, and North American retailers comprise nearly half of the top 25 global retailers ranked in JLL’s Destination Retail 2016 report, which examines retailer presence in 140 global cities. One reason is North America’s cultural dominance, encompassing not just music and movie stars, but also consumer packaged goods.
“We’re the top exporter of popular culture around the world,” says Naveen Jaggi, President, Retail Brokerage and Capital Markets, at JLL. “U.S. retailers are selling a piece of that culture to an international audience that already has an appetite for it.”
Despite the strong presence of U.S.-based brands, European brands still dominate international markets because they long ago outgrew their compact domestic borders. “In today’s increasingly global retail market, international expansion is a big focus area for our retail clients as they seek sustainable growth in emerging markets,” says Jaggi.
So what are the North American brands with the biggest global presence?
More than 30 years ago a man named Tommy Hilfiger changed men’s apparel by modernizing the standard button-down shirt and chino pant into fitted and designed apparel. It hallmarked the movement of bringing classic “American cool” to the world. Now, Tommy Hilfiger has the biggest global presence out of all designer brands, with stores in 94 percent of the top 140 key global markets and 100 percent of top Americas markets.
Second in JLL’s Destination Retail 2016 ranking is Levi’s, which has a presence in 92 percent of the top global markets. Levi’s brand name has become synonymous with quality jeans for men and women worldwide. The premium clothing retailer operates approximately 2,800 stores globally, and is continuing its global expansion. Levi.com has recently started shipping from a second fulfillment center on the U.S. West Coast; the brand now can reach almost all U.S. households in two days or less, using its extensive store network for distribution.
U.S. sports brand Nike ranks third, operating two distinct store concepts in 91 percent of the world’s top markets. The brand’s Niketown showroom stores showcase Nike’s latest fashion lines. In contrast, the Nike factory stores are significantly bigger and offer a slightly more mass-market proposition to broaden the brand’s customer base. These retail outlets are supplemented by Nike’s strong wholesale business and an online business that accounts for 15 percent of Nike’s sales.
MAC Cosmetics, launched in Toronto department store in 1984 and with headquarters now in New York City, ranks eleventh in the global Destination Retail list with a presence in 81 percent of the top retail markets. The make-up brand, which is part of Estée Lauder Companies, continues to expand its store network in such high-growth markets such as Kuwait City and Jeddah (Saudia Arabia) in the Middle East.
The number 12 spot on the JLL rankings of top global retailers goes to Guess, which has stores in nearly 80 percent of the top global retail markets. Born in the Beverly Hills area of Los Angeles, Guess has branched out from high quality clothing for men and women to fashion accessories such as watches, shoes, perfume, and jewelry.
Upscale retailer Michael Kors has a presence in 79 percent of the 140 top retail markets, coming in at #13 on the JLL Destination Retail index. With representation in over 95 countries, Michael Kors has rapidly risen to global prominence over the past 30 years thanks to distinctive designs and elegant craftsmanship. Although Kors produces high quality clothing for men and women, the brand is most often identified and renowned for their extravagant handbags and watches.
Consumer electronics retailer Bose continues to expand its international presence with new locations in emerging markets such as Saudi Arabia’s capital city, Riyadh. Originating over 50 years ago in Massachusetts, Bose has since set the bar in the electronics industry when it comes to home audio systems, professional audio systems, speakers, and noise cancelling headphones. With locations in 76 percent of the top retail markets, Bose ties for the #14 spot with London-based Burberry and Germany’s Mont Blanc.
Retail chain Timberland is selling its stylish, rugged, apparel, footwear and accessories in 75 percent of the top 140 retail markets, earning it the #19 spot. Although now a global force, Timberland has never forgotten its New England roots when it comes to designing new shoes, opening new stores, or creating a new aspect of their company. Timberland still creates their products and business in a way to cater to the outdoor lifestyle.
Montreal-based Aldo is the only company with headquarters in Canada to be included in the top 25 global retailers. The footwear company has locations in 73 percent of the top markets and ranks at #21 alongside Apple, Gap and Max Mara. Aldo has recently expanded its market to include accessories for men and women such as sunglasses, watches, and jewelry. Although growing globally, Aldo is still covering new ground in the North American market, having just opened its first store in Hawaii.
Consumer electronics company Apple has an expansive retail presence, tying with Aldo, Gap and Max Mara for the #21 spot on JLL’s list of top global retailers with coverage in approximately 70 percent of the top global markets. The brand has locations in mature markets such as Miami, as well as growing markets such as Dubai. Headquartered in Cupertino, California, Apple is always trying to expand its market share by creating simple to use but innovative watches. Having started life as a computer company, Apple now uses its technology to create high quality phones, tablets, and even watches.
Apparel company Gap has used franchise stores to expand its presence while reducing market risk in various Middle East and Asian cities. With coverage in 73 percent of the top retail markets, the brand ties for the #21 spot with Aldo, Apple and Max Mara. Having opened its first store in 1969 in San Francisco, California, Gap has grown to create a presence in 90 countries worldwide. The company now consists of five different brands including Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Athleta and Intermix.
With coverage in approximately 70 percent of the top global markets, Crocs has introduced its casual footwear to consumers in Europe and Asia over the past decade to become #25 in Destination Retail’s ranking of top global brands. Since its inception in 2002 near the rocky mountains of Boulder, Colorado, Crocs has sold more than 300 million pairs of shoes in over 90 countries around the globe. Crocs headquarters are still based in Colorado.