The French conquest has started: A.S. Adventure opened a store near Nice last week, a sign of the retailer’s new foreign expansion strategy after it learned from past mistakes.
Not a copy/paste
A.S. Adventure wants to open four new stores in France every year, starting with its Nice-based store in the modern Polygone Riviera shopping center, located in Cagnes-sur-Mer. It is not an identical store to the Belgian A.S. Adventure, but was altered to fit the French market in several areas.
“We made mistakes when we first tried to introduce A.S. Adventure in France”, CEO Dominique Motte admitted in BLSC and Comeos’ “Retailers going cross-border” seminar at real estate conference Realty. “In 2011, we went for the copy/paste approach, opening stores that were a 100 % match to our Belgian stores, at the same destination locations, with a Belgian brand mix and with Belgian prices. We also applied the waterfall principle, starting out in the north and trickling down south. We now know that approach does not work.” The company closed a store in Metz, maintained a presence in Reims which acted as its pilot store for an altered store formula.
High traffic locations
A.S. Adventure will now tackle the French market with a completely tailored approach. To improve its profitability, it will downsize its stores to 1,500 sqm, cutting out the library, the coffee corner, mezzanine, and Bike and Run divisions (which would have faced competition from Decathlon). It also altered its brand mix and enlisted French retailer Au Vieux Campeur’s former purchase director to help out in that regard.
The brand is completely unknown to the French consumer and that is why A.S. Adventure has chosen location with a lot of traffic, preferably in major shopping centers, plentiful in France. These shopping centers also welcome A.S. Adventure with open arms, because its product range is complementary with other stores and it is also innovative. Nice’s Polygone Riviera currently welcomes eight million consumers every year. In October, the company will open a store in Carrè Senart, south of Paris, also home to Veritas. This particular shopping center attracts fifteen million customers every year.
“And we are looking towards other areas as well, including Paris, Annecy, Lyon, Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, Toulouse, Bordeaux… We should be able to open 40 to 45 stores in the future and become market leader as outdoor brand retailer, considering Decathlon is a private label competitor.”