Belgian fashion label LolaLiza opened its 100th store in Louvain this month, but its founders - the Appelstein brothers - do not plan to rest on their laurels. They see plenty of room for expansion, especially abroad.
Fast growth in difficult market
LolaLiza, founded in 2001 by the people who created the Appel's fashion chain, has become a highly competitive brand in the past 15 years, able to compete with other well-known Belgian fashion chains. Its most remarkable feat is that it managed to penetrate the women's clothing market, an incredibly difficult and highly competitive market that has troubled a number of chains in recent years. However, LolaLiza's annual turnover has steadily grown to 114 million euro.
LolaLiza, first launched as Lola & Liza, was founded after the Applesteins sold Appel's in 2001. "Back then, we did not feel Appel's business model was up-to-date. It has to be remodeled entirely, but that was very difficult, which is why we decided to sell", Appelstein told De Tijd. Later that year, the brothers founded Lola & Liza.
Expansion into neighbouring countries
There are a number of reasons why the chain has grown so much. Gino Van Ossel says it has managed to create a successful fast fashion approach, while it also attract a wide range of women. Many of its stores are also ideally located, either in city centers, in shopping malls or on very busy streets. "40 % of our current store network is located in the periphery. We started out with roadside stores because we saw a lot of potential growth in the city's outskirts", Appelstein said.
It only launched its web shop 3 years ago, but that division now brings in as much turnover as the chain's largest store. The company's gaze has now turned to foreign markets, particularly France and the Netherlands. It currently has 4 stores in the Netherlands and should have 8 in France by the end of the year. The road is also being paved in Germany, with preliminary talks already underway.