For Zara, a company that hardly spends any money on advertising, its stores have always served as the primary marketing tool. The Spanish clothing retailer is getting ready to open its flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York, and will be presenting a new image, one that is “completely different and completely renewed compared to the image of Zara that we are used to seeing,” the president of parent group Inditex, Pablo Isla, said this week.
The new concept of the store is, in Isla’s words, one that is “much more focused on the boutique, with lots of different boutiques within the store — a very smart store, very transparent and very welcoming. It’s a very different concept, but it’s definitely Zara,” Isla said.
Zara presented its new image in New York on Tuesday, having invited a group of journalists from all over the world. The new concept of the flagship store, which is located at number 666 on Fifth Avenue, is going to be adopted throughout the entire chain, from new openings to refurbished existing stores. Some of the Zara stores that opened last year have already started adopting the concept, such as those in Sydney, Melbourne, London, Porto, Taiwan and China.
Breaking from its usual policy of renting, a year ago Inditex bought the Fifth Avenue real estate for $324 million (247 million euros), given that it was a “unique opportunity,” according to Isla. The new Zara store has a staff of 450 people, and is not far from the Museum of Modern Art. The store will be the signature of the brand on the most expensive shopping street in the world, in an area full of luxury boutiques and huge brands such as Versace, Tiffany and Apple. Millions of tourists visit every year.
What’s more, Zara is introducing a new payment method at the store, whereby customers can make their purchases using a cellphone. The scheme will soon be rolled out to other stores.
Inditex is going to make use of the Zara store it already had on Fifth Avenue to introduce its Massimo Dutti brand into the North American market. The plan is to open further stores in Washington as well as in Toronto. Until now, Inditex’s presence was limited to 50 Zara stores, seven of which are in New York.
At his meeting with journalists, Isla said that the company would not be using the crisis as an excuse, and that it must keep growing despite the negative economic climate. If Spain is to emerge from the crisis, he said, it will depend on reforms being introduced now to achieve greater growth in two or three years.
The prices at Zara, Isla explained, have remained more or less steady over the last 10 years. The company is not, he said, planning on responding to the announcement by rival chain Mango that it would be dropping its prices by 20 percent.
Inditex was founded by Galician businessman Amancio Ortega Gaona, who is one of the world’s richest men. The first Zara store was opened in 1975, on a street in A Coruña. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Inditex group began its expansion into markets all over the world, and it now boasts more than 5,000 stores in nearly 80 countries.