Accessories specialist Claire’s is overhauling its image to appeal to older teenage customers as it plots aggressive expansion across Europe.
Kenny Wilson, president of Europe for the US-owned retailer, which has 953 stores in the UK and on the Continent, has developed plans to open further shops and push into more countries since joining the business in January.
This year Claire’s opened 23 stores across Europe and next year Wilson said Clare’s would open “significantly more” in order to strengthen its presence, particularly in Germany and Spain.
Wilson said that with 465 stores in the UK and Ireland there are no plans at present for more shops here, but he hopes to re-fit and refresh the existing portfolio.
Claire’s has just revamped its Oxford Street store and in the three weeks since the shop reopened it has been about 20% ahead like for like.
Claire’s European business achieved its first growth in two years in the last quarter, when sales rose 2%. Wilson is confident that the business can continue on an upward trajectory.
The new shopfit brings products for older teenage customers – those in the 13 to 18 age group – forward to the front to better attract their custom. Although Claire’s is still very popular with younger children, older customers have been less brand-loyal, turning instead to retailers such as Topshop and New Look for accessories.
Wilson said Claire’s has been working on the fashionability and quality of its products. He wants to increase brand awareness through digital marketing initiatives and increased activity with fashion magazines. “The UK is the most competitive market in Europe and we want to get the brand more talked about,” he said.
Since joining Claire’s, Wilson has brought in 28 new people at senior level and is still recruiting for more positions at its Birmingham head office to cope with expansion plans.