A woman, a man, it's a pair that was appointed two years ago at the head of Kiabi Worldwilde Treasury, one of the emblematic brands of Gérard Mulliez's ch'ti group (Auchan, Decathlon, etc.) .
A pair of general managers (CEOs) remained in the shadows since the end of 2019, and who finally decided to communicate, by inviting the media to visit the Kiabi department store in Englos (North).
On this Thursday in September, the visit takes place at a run.
"Here is the new space dedicated to the occasion", unrolls one of the two CEOs, Patrick Stassi, "kiabeur" - as we say here - for eight years, after having gone through Decathlon and La Redoute.
Then he shows us the “workshop”, where we can put a patch to hide a hole in a pair of jeans or have “Best sponsor 2021” written on a newly purchased T-shirt.
Finally, Patrick Stassi and his co-CEO, Béatrice Héricourt (ten years in the company after having worked at Pimkie), make you discover this other area of the store, where customers can come and try on items they have ordered online, without prepay them.
Patrick Stassi and Béatrice Héricourt, co-directors of Kiabi, in front of the Englos store, in the greater Lille area (North).
LP / Sarah Alcalay
The tour is quickly dispatched, but the message is clear: let people know that despite the Covid, which forced it to close for three months during its 340 stores, Kiabi, the second favorite brand of the French behind Decathlon, still has so many projects. and bounces with talent.
"In 2020, our turnover reached 1.69 billion euros, against 2 billion for a standard year, but from 2021, we will return to the level of 2019", promises Patrick Stassi, who dreams, "in the ten years to come ”, to offer a host of new services to this clientele, which continues to support the brand launched in 1978.
The 43-year-old brand remains a leader in clothing in France
In fact, the continued success of Kiabi amazes all experts. "With 6.8% of volumes sold in France, this nugget of the Mulliez group remains largely the leader in the clothing market", analyzes Hélène Janicaud, director of the fashion division of the research firm Kantar. “The main clientele remains families with children, who need to buy clothes, but also want to have fun,” adds Cédric Ducrocq, president of Diamart Consulting. Clothes for the little ones, clothes for the round ones - here, we dress all body types, from XXS to 4XL. "At Kiabi - it is in the DNA of this company - we meet all these needs, but always at competitive prices", underlines Cédric Ducrocq.
In the aisles of Englos, you can find children's T-shirts at 2 euros, pajamas 4 months at 4 euros, and the famous chino jeans at 15 euros.
Peggy, sales assistant, has just won 10 items for 43 euros.
“Frankly, given the way my daughters treat their clothes, I wouldn't invest more,” she smiles.
Isabelle, a regular for… thirty-five years, has just spent 25 euros for a sweater and underwear.
"It's the right price," approves this client.
In the Englos store (North), Isabelle, here with her daughter Oriana, paid 25 euros for a sweater and underwear.
LP / Sarah Alcalay
Articles at ridiculous prices, yes, but of quality.
“Between the two, we don't want the customer to have to choose,” insists Julie Silvert, Kiabi's director of collections.
“They sell organic cotton T-shirts for 2.50 euros, it's unbeatable,” notes Hélène Janicaud, from Kantar.
And, in this area, the brand is still in its infancy: "By 2025, 100% of our collections will be eco-designed", promises Julie Silvert.
Getting such value for money is only possible by producing in Asia, of course.
The economies of scale achieved through the large volumes ordered from suppliers also reduce costs - Kiabi's iconic skinny jeans are sold at 2 million pieces per year.
Above all, a very thorough reflection is undertaken to keep costs as low as possible.
Read alsoKiabi gives a second life to your old clothes
The material to make the sweatshirts is now pooled for women and children models;
the work on the pockets is standardized, with savings of a few cents on each item.
“Pockets, belts… as soon as we can, we standardize the manufacturing,” confirms Julie Silvert.
Also recently, a “zero waste” windbreaker has been invented - usually 15% of the fabric is thrown away.
Finally, the extensive use of data (weather forecast, number of clicks on a particular product, etc.) is valuable, because it allows us to anticipate as closely as possible the quantities that will be sold and to avoid surpluses.
A team of 56 stylists who travel to capture the trends
But Kiabi's success would not be so clear if the brand could not also boast of being fashionable. Recently, recognition has come from the lifestyle magazine "Milk", which has put forward the latest collections of the house, checked overshirts in mind.
At the brand's northern headquarters in Hem, a team of 56 stylists grouped together in a trendlab (trends laboratory) works on the color, shapes or graphics of the different pieces.
Seminars organized in London, Istanbul or Lisbon, with visits to museums but also to metro stations and walks in the city, allow the teams to come back with thousands of photos, from which emerges a sort of spirit of the times that will inspire the collections. futures.
"Thanks to all this, they took market share from hypermarkets, which have a much less focused fashion proposition," said Gildas Minvielle, of the French Fashion Institute.
Soon new points of sale
Note a recent change, driven by the Covid crisis: fashion is more and more for “seasonally adjusted”, durable, in short, timeless clothes.
"It is hard to see Kiabi's success stopping there, unless they give in to the temptation to go upmarket," warns Cédric Ducrocq.
After a very successful switch to digital, and several ongoing tests (click and collect in four hours, corners at Auchan, etc.), Kiabi should in any case open new points of sale in the near future with partners in around forty small towns, and why not a new store in Paris.
In a fashion world today devastated, these prospects are frankly cheerful.