Kiabi resists the clothing crisis

Kiabi resists the clothing crisis

Kiabi looks good. The clothing brand “did not close any stores in 2023”, argued Ouarda Ech-Chykry, its director for France, during a press conference devoted to the brand’s annual results, Tuesday January 23. While the number of clothing store closures increases in France in 2023, at Pimkie, Kookaï and Naf Naf, the low-cost fashion distributor prides itself on having “resisted” in France, its main market.

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Clothing sales there have declined in volume “pronounced” and slightly down in value (-0.3% compared to 2022), “taking into account inflation”, according to provisional data from the French Fashion Institute. But, despite this unfavorable situation, the brand known for its large stores “continued to gain market share”, assures Patrick Stassi, its general director. Nearly 13% of children’s fashion sales are made at Kiabi, in volume, according to the Kantar firm. In addition, the brand ranks second among clothing distributors in France, behind Intersport and ahead of Decathlon.

The group, present in twenty-six countries, with 606 stores and corners, is however facing the same torments as its competitors. Across Europe, inflation is forcing consumers to reduce the budget they spend on clothing. The decline in the birth rate in France (- 6.6% in 2023 compared to 2022) and in Spain (- 2.4% in 2022 compared to 2021) threatens the activity of the children’s and baby departments, one of the Kiabi’s strengths in recruiting customers.

Competition is increasing “tough”, particularly in Italy, where the Irish Primark has entered an intense phase of expansion, recognizes François Haimez, international director of Kiabi. Finally, tensions in the Red Sea linked to attacks by Yemeni Houthi rebels are extending delivery times for its collections made in Asia. “an additional two weeks” and forcing him to review “the timing of its production”, specify its leaders.

Expansion of the tricolor park

“There are many hazards”, observes Mr. Stassi. Therefore, the northern group owned by the Mulliez family association, also a shareholder of Auchan, Decathlon and Leroy Merlin, refuses to detail its 2023 performances on a like-for-like basis and to reveal its forecasts for 2024.

The last financial year ended with a turnover of 2.21 billion euros, or 1.1% growth on a current basis, according to management. Ultimately, 2023 is therefore very different from 2022; last year was a vintage “performance”. Despite the opening of 64 points of contact – the term house to describe the stores and corners located in brands such as Auchan -, Kiabi’s growth stands at only 1.1%, compared to 10% in 2022 (37 inaugurations).

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Mattie B. Jiménez

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