Vögele too suffers from strong Swiss Franc

Swiss fashion concern Charles Vögele has released very disappointing semi-annual results, with turnover dropping 10% to CHF 626 million (€552 million). 86% of this reduction was caused by the strong Swiss Franc – earlier also responsible for difficulties at Coop. Charles Vögele generates over two thirds of its turnover in the Euro-zone. 

First semester loss of 54 million euro 

The chain also announced a first semester loss of CHF 62 million (€54 million) – of which 30% would be directly caused by exchange rate losses. CEO André Maeder already announced to expect that the second semester will not be good enough to compensate for these losses. Last year, the group still had a net profit of CHF 18 million. 

Three pillar strategy

“The modernization strategy we have initiated is gradually having an effect, but is taking longer than expected”, says Maeder. The new strategy focusses on three pillars: “Fascination” (adopting actress Penelope Cruz and her sister as new faces of their campaigns), “Growth” (doubling the number of collections per year to eight) and “processes” (renewing the clothes in Vögele stores each six weeks). Still, new customers show up much later than expected.


The growth should be stimulated by launching a web shop for Switzerland, Austria, Germany and – starting from this autumn – the Benelux. The group also has 826 stores in 9 countries, of which 114 are in the Netherlands and 45 in Belgium. 


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Amazon enters iFlashfashion market with Myhabit


Amazon enters iFlashfashion market with Myhabit

Amazon, the world's largest online retailer, has bought the small, members-only website, similar to or

App to fight "sold out" notifications

Every morning from 9 to 12, Myhabit sells brands like Doo.ri or Halston with reductions up to 60% until the stock is completely sold out. This need for speed often frustrates members, which is why Amazon plans to build an iPhone app to warn members in time. The app should be launched somewhere in the next three months.


“The Myhabit for iPhone app will allow our customers never to miss another offer, wherever they are. They will have the same user-friendly experience as the one they can find on the normal website, including 360° clips of real models wearing the clothing on offer”, says Maria Renz, Myhabit's president.


The app will also offer a preview for each session in the next two days, including a reminder function “to reduce the chance that the customer's favourite articles are already sold out”. Delivery in the US is free, European customers pay 15 dollar.

Competition from the French 

With Myhabit and the earlier acquisition of the Spanish flash fashion site BuyVIP, Amazon is directly entering competition with online shopping communities like Gilt Groupe, HauteLook and Rue La La. The main European competition will come from French Vente-privee, that soon will cross the Atlantic in the other direction. In March 2010, eBay had already entered the flash sales market with the opening of the Fashion Vault.

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Zara excels, H&M stagnates, GAP crashes

Zara can cope with the rising cotton and oil prices better than H&M and Gap can. While Gap has released a profit warning and H&M only achieved a minimal (2%) growth, the Spanish brand saw its owner Inditex grow a huge 11% over the past quarter.


Inditex leads the way in 2011

The main victim of the ever rising raw material prices is American GAP, whose profit warning last week predicted a drop in profits of 22% this year. Swedish H&M's turnover did grow by 2%, but that was not enough to match the predicted 5.4%.


With 27.6 billion Swedish crowns (3.03 billion euro), H&M's monthly turnover was 80 million euro shy of what the analysts had estimated. The news from Spain is significantly better: Inditex's net result for this financial quarter reached 332 million euro (well better than expected), while their turnover soared to 2.96 billion euro (+11%).


Higher costs, higher salaries: lower margins

Inditex too suffered from the rising costs and saw its bruto margin drop from 59.9 to 58.8%, but the situation for the two others is far worse. Especially the rising salaries in China are causing these bad results – while Inditex produces mainly in Europe and Northern Africa, where salaries have grown less than in China.

Another factor is threatening all three chains: the European and American consumer, hit hard by the global crisis and inflation, is spending less – and this reinforces the influence of higher prices for raw materials and energy. Again, the Spanish empire, who have just announced the opening of a Zara web shop for America, is better off: it has a strong presence in markets like Eastern Europe, that are still growing fast.


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