London Calling

Swedish Fashion Retailer expands to the UK

01 Apr 2015, Rebecca Martin

London Calling

When fashion chain Lindex announced in 2014 that they were going to open in London, it was the latest development in the company‘s seemingly skyward trajectory. The chain has already been making headlines recently with a slew of collaborations with famous fashion designers, most recently the iconic Jean-Paul Gaultier, as well as prominent faces such as actress Kate Hudson and super model Karen Elson.

The retailer, which up until now had been focusing its expansion in the east, will be opening their first shop in London, in the fabulous Westfield Stratford City, which, a mere skip hop and jump from the City, is the largest urban shopping centre in Europe.  Having wanted to reach a larger audience for a while, it had been a goal to increase the company’s visibility and place themselves at this level.

“The UK seemed a very natural step at this point. We have been working for a while to be ready for this move; to build a strong brand and to have a strong product. The UK market has enormous potential and will give Lindex the opportunity to grow,” Lindex CEO Ingvar Larsson tells The LINK.

Lindex CEO, Ingvar Larsson

The company was founded in the 1950s, when Ingemar Boman and Bengt Rosell opened a lingerie store in Alingsås, west Sweden. Shortly thereafter, Boman and Rosell bought a company named Lindex, based in Gothenburg, and subsequently changed the name of all stores to match this. In the 1960s and 70s the range was expanded to include women’s ready-to-wear and in the 1980s the company started to look outside of the Nordics, but toward the end of the decade again chose to concentrate on markets closer to home.

The 1990s saw a focus on ethical production and environmental issues, and the company purchased the children’s wear brand Fix, known for its colourful prints and durability. A collaboration with supermodel Emma Wiklund in the noughties brought Lindex firmly back to the forefront of trendy high street fashion.

The company started looking east and began its expansion in Central Europe, opening stores in the Baltics as well as the Czech Republic. After being incorporated into the Finnish listed retail group Stockmann in 2007, the Russian market opened up and the company launched its first store in St Petersburg in 2008. Soon after, the chain also opened up franchises in the Middle East.

Today, Lindex is a leading fashion retailer in Northern Europe, with 480 stores and some 5,000 employees.

Responsible for the UK expansion is newly appointed regional manager Lena Provén. With a solid retail background, joining Lindex at first as a store manager, she has been a regional manager within the company for the last 8 years. She tells The LINK that she loves a good challenge and is excited to shoulder the responsibility of taking the chain to the UK.

“I have high expectations – it is going to be truly exciting to build the team from the ground up and really put Lindex on the UK fashion map,” she says.

Lena Provén, Regional Manager

In the shop, which is set to open in late March, a new store concept will be rolled out, which although in line with the look that has become associated with Lindex  (a Scandinavian chic with focus on light, freshness and a welcoming space) promises to offer more flexible fittings and an increased focus on sustainability.

“The store layout will be slightly different, we will have more inspiration spaces and window displays that will allow us to show off the fashion in a fantastic way,” Provén says.

And at Lindex, they are very clear on who their target audience is.

“The Lindex target customer is a fashion-interested and fashion-conscious woman in the middle of her career, often with children. Whether we are planning the cut and design, the stores or the web shop – the woman is always in focus,” Ingvar Larsson tells The LINK.

Resonating with the self-image of the core customer, recent collaborations with famous faces have without a doubt brought the company profile to the forefront. In 2011, Lindex collaborated with US celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe, and the fashion house has been fronted by stars such as Reese Witherspoon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Penelope Cruz and Kate Hudson.

Despite a fierce competition on the UK retail market, Lindex is committed to not comparing its results to that of other retail competitors on the high street.

“Wherever we have taken Lindex, we have always strived to compare our results to what we have achieved before,” says Larsson. “That way we keep pushing ourselves to improve and to always get better at what we do.”

And according to Provén there has been a lot of UK interest following the reveal that the shop will be launched in Stratford City.

“We have had a lot of enquiries and we feel very welcome,” she tells The LINK.

Provén has been part of the planning team since her appointment in September last year and has been on the spot, overseeing the construction of the store and recruiting staff since early December.

Apart from a more flexible décor there will also be less carpets in the new store, which is part of their ongoing commitment to a more sustainable running of the company – on all levels.

“This has always been important to us. The difference today is that we talk more about it, we have developed clear goals and we are getting better at telling the world all that we are actually doing in this area,“ Larsson tells The LINK.

In November the company announced the recruitment of a Global Sustainability Manager, based in Hong Kong, who will be working on goals and sustainability strategy as well as support production offices in the implementation and work with stakeholder and industry partner in reaching the company’s sustainability goals.

Larsson tells The LINK that 99 % of Lindex employees are women and that the company is very much a company FOR women.

“Our commitment is to our customers. It is therefore natural to be committed to causes that affect women. For example, we have been a main partner in the Pink Ribbon project in Sweden from the very beginning, doing our bit to fight breast cancer since 2003,” he says.

In the latest Pink Ribbon Campaign Lindex donated a whole 10 % of the sales price on the collection in collaboration with fashion icon Jean Paul Gaultier to the cause, in total raising a staggering €1.4M.

At the moment, management is busy looking at other potential locations in the UK that are right for Lindex.

“But we’re in no rush,” says Ingvar Larsson. “It is more important that it is the perfect location for Lindex.”

Lindex launched their first store in London's Westfields Stratford shopping centre at the end of March. 

 

Photo Credit: Lindex

Archive