The Year 2014: Part 3

december 31, 2014

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It was a hectic year for Luxottica and the Dutch optical chains made a mess out of it. What else happened? Let’s first look at retail developments. This year we have seen many mono brand stores openings. Suzy Glam did it in Amsterdam, Italia Independent and Anne et Valentin in New York (the second one in the Big Apple for A&V) where recently Cutler and Gross and Retrosuperfuture landed as well. Mykita opened a second store in Berlin. Apparently in the optical business as well you can attract consumers and be successful with one brand or a very few ones only. This is a great lesson for most opticians with far too many brands. Famous Dutch trendwatcher Lidewij Edelkoort recently said it in her last forecast: we will see more “empty” stores offering less goods as consumers start to get annoyed by the excess and abundancy. Look at new initiatives like the “sharing economy” with Airbnb, Über and Snappcar as best examples. People organize congresses about this and everywhere new concepts are born. We are a little finished with consuming and stores need to deal. The good news is that people are not finished with stores at all. But what they want in the stores is inspiration, socializing and intimacy. And when all this is there, they have no problems to spend their money. And so we have seen lots of Dutch consumers who went to Antwerp in Belgium for their Christmas shoppings because it is cosy, inspiring and pleasant there. Not at least because the Belgian law regulates sales and limits it to short periods in a year which means retailers are challenged to think about other ways as price alone to attract the consumers. Just read our yesterday’s story and how Dutch optical chains handle this and ruin the business and people’s appetite all together. Another interesting thing to mention is the founding of Dutch Independent Retail by Optitrade. The concept aims to make it easier for elder opticians to sell their store to a young independent entrepreneur and in that way, invests in independent ownership. We are certainly not the only ones who are very curious to see the first shops which are planned to open in Spring next year.

And what about internet? It is very clear that most small internet stores are more something like a hobby than a real business model. Not only in the optical business but in all other branches as well. Only a few large companies manage to get it working and for that reason we carefully watch the developments at (acquired by Luxottica) and (acquired by Essilor). In the Netherlands couldn’t make it and closed down already. We have to wait how another recent start-up like Ace & Tate will develop. These are interesting times and we will keep you posted. What is today’s message? Less is more! Stores should become more empty and offer less products. To stay in tune with the first two days: it’s the classical mess with far too many products versus the focused specialist with only a few brands he loves to sell. See you on Friday!

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