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Brits abroad: Top 5 British retailers to go global Sunday, 31st July 2011
After a week of Forever 21 fever, My Retail Media has decided to inject a little patriotism into our Sunday Top 5, so we’ve chosen five of our favourite British retailers making a storm across the pond, the channel, the Baltics... in fact in every which-way they can!
Any list on going global would not be complete without Burberry at number one. This stall mark of British fashion is pretty much writing the book as we speak on how to take heritage style worldwide. Plans for a brand new Asian flagship in Hong Kong this week suggest Burberry is well on the way to global supremacy.
Perhaps if Jack Cohen had never received a shipment for tea from T.E. Stockwell and decided to use the first letters from his surname, Britain wouldn’t have become the birthplace for the world’s third largest retailer, Tesco. With its first store opening in 1929, Tesco now operates across 14 countries employing around 472,000 members of staff. But it’s not just the speed of Tesco’s expansion that’s impressed us of late, but its methods. Faced with a tough grocery market to beat in South Korea, Tesco set up Home Plus to enable commuters to purchase their food whilst waiting for the train home, proving that if anyone can find a gap in the market, (no matter how small) Tesco can.
One of the key problems with taking a brand global is predicting how the designs will translate across continents and international styles. So when a brand as ubiquitous to the British high street as Topshop announces it’s headed stateside, there would always be cause for concern from die-hard British fans reluctant to share. Topshop’s first flagship store on New York’s Broadway opened in April 2009, in the middle of the worst recession in generations for the United States. Yet the shoppers kept coming, queuing in droves around the block, waiting up to five hours as owner Philip Green defiantly told the dubious British press: "Where are the people walking around nude? People are still wearing clothes. They want to be inspired. They still want to shop. Get real."
Two years on, and this summer saw new rumours emerge that Topshop is now preparing to take over a 20,000 square foot store in the Fashion Show Mall in Las Vegas for March 2012. Tally ho!
4. All Saints
Less than twenty years old, All Saints now operates more than 70 stores worldwide, and is fast becoming a major success story in British retail. In June last year the Spitalfields-based company opened its first store in New York, having already launched in outposts for Miami and Los Angeles. All Saint’s Big Apple venture took more than USD 1 million in its first fortnight, outperforming the nearby Topshop store, with just half the floor space.
5. Cath Kidston
Cath Kidston’s kitch prints and aspirational life style designs didn’t take long to gain a nation of floral obsessives. Tapping into something as British as cream tea, Kidston took off where Laura Ashley had faltered in the past few years, and has fast become the poster girl for British country living. Now with 15 shops in Japan and four in Korea, it seems the brand is gearing up for a global roll out, appointing Kenny Wilson as the new chief executive to head up a worldwide expansion programme.