Menswear milestone: Hugo Boss opens 200th airport store

Luxury menswear specialist Hugo Boss opened its 200th airport store earlier this year at Sydney Airport, as the brand maintains its strong focus on growth in travel retail.

The store, which opened in April, measures 187sq m and is located at Sydney Airport Terminal 1. It offers Boss menswear including ready-to-wear, shoes, accessories as well as sportswear lines such as Boss Green.

The opening takes the brand’s total number of airport stores in Asia Pacific to 47.

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Sydney Airport: The new luxury precinct is home to Hugo Boss’ 200th airport outlet

Hugo Boss entered travel retail in the 1990s and has four lines: Boss, Boss Green, Boss Orange and Hugo. The company has a dedicated global travel retail team, with offices in Zürich, New York and Hong Kong.

The company said growth in the channel over the years has been stable apart from 2001/2002 and 2008/2009 when the travel retail and fashion industries were shaken by global events such as 9/11 and the financial crisis.

Hugo Boss Travel Retail Director Jesper Gustafsson said Hugo Boss had proven a success in travel retail because it offers all three product pillars in men’s fashion: formalwear, sportswear, shoes and accessories. “The share among the three pillars is equal today, with shoes and accessories the fastest growing product segment for the past two to three years.”

Gustafsson continued: “Last year’s exceptional growth of fashion and accessories in the travel retail industry was mainly driven by womenswear and by the accessories category in particular. For Hugo Boss, this has been a blessing in disguise. On the one hand, it has given us tough times as some airport authorities have been chasing the accessories segment for women blindly, sometimes deciding to dedicate 100% of the available stores in their airports to this product category.

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Hugo Boss Travel Retail Director Jesper Gustafsson says there is limited competition in men’s fashion in travel retail

“On the other hand, it has given us little competition in our area of expertise, namely fashion for the male customer at the airports. Our strategy has always been to be the number one menswear brand in travel retail, a vision we have kept and fulfilled for several years now.”

The importance of travel retail to Hugo Boss’ business is highlighted in the brand’s investments in new stores and renovations, he said. “On average we finalise between 40 to 50 store projects per year, with a strong distribution network as a result,” noted Gustafsson.

“We develop both through franchise partners and directly operated stores, which enables us to act fast and balance our distribution in a way that we can learn from direct contact with the traveller. It is imperative to learn how the needs of the travelling customer develop and how we can adapt as a brand to become better, and more responsive in the way we develop our business.”

Opening PhotoAccording to Gustafsson, fashion is not considered a priority by many male travellers. “Fashion, especially for men, often comes after the core categories, food & beverage and sometimes also behind technology. This means that a clear, powerful message is needed in your offer as well as good customer service to enable the purchase to happen within the restricted time limit for the customer.

“Another important factor is omnichannel. If we can start the buying process before our customer leaves his home, we have a head-start and our airport conversion rates will be affected positively.

“Like many other fashion companies out there, Hugo Boss is investing heavily in this area and in due time several functions such as click & collect for example will be available at our airport stores.”

So, where does Gustafsson see Hugo Boss’ travel retail business in five years’ time? “Having 200 airport stores is certainly a milestone, but the road ahead is filled with more opportunities, which does not necessarily have to be more stores. It can also mean new ways of connecting to the customer through an omnichannel approach, or, for example, to offer a deeper customer service with tailoring at the airport and free home delivery of an altered suit.”

Gustafsson continued: “Airports will develop more and more towards downtown shopping centres, where customer experience takes precedence rather than the spur-of-the-moment or last-minute approach used today by airport authorities when they develop their retail areas.

“I also think that we will see the fashion & accessories category continue to outpace the traditional airport categories in growth, leading to a welcome shift in focus from how the main duty free stores should develop separately from the rest of the stores and cafes/restaurants, to how the entire airport shopping area should develop to give the customer a better experience.”

“A brand like Hugo Boss can make gains as there’s still a mismatch between demand and supply for men’s and women’s fashion at airports today if you compare it to downtown,” concluded Gustafsson.



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