Distinctive Fashion
    Category: Luxury & Lifestyle By : Yessar Rosendar Read : 767 Date : Saturday, October 12, 2013 - 07:47:36

    When the iconic French retailer Galeries Lafayette opened its first store in Asia, and its fourth store outside France, it celebrated with typical Gallic flair. While Barons de Rothschild champagne flowed like water, some 3,000 guests were entertained by a mix of French ballerinas and Indonesian dancers, to symbolize the cooperation between the two countries. Designer brands Alexander McQueen and Biyan also staged fashion shows. “This opening has been in preparation for the last three years. We choose Indonesia because it's a fast growing country in Asia,” says Philippe Houzé, 66, executive board chairman of the retailer's parent Societe Anonyme des Galeries Lafayette in an exclusive interview with Forbes Indonesia.

    The 12,500 square meters store with four floors in Jakarta's Pacific Place mall will feature with over 350 international and local brands of cosmetics, perfumes, accessories including leather goods and shoes, fashion for women and men, accessories, luggage, and the latest gadget collections.

    Phillipe decided to partner with the country's largest retailer, PT Mitra Adiperkasa (MAP), to open the store, given the company's strong track record in managing imported brands in the market. “The right partner for us must be a retailer, because setting up retail in a new country is a middle to long term project and a retailer will understand that,” Phillipe says.

    Indonesia hit all the right buttons for Phillipe—it is the world's fourth largest country by population, with half of them under 40 years old. “We love young customers because they love fashion,” Phillipe says. MAP's Chief Executive V.P. Sharma is also upbeat on the potential of adding the brand to its portfolio, which now covers 1,440 retail outlets. “Real fashion comes from France, and Galeries Lafayette is number one in Paris. Now the economy is growing, so the country is ready for an upscale department store,” says Sharma.

    The opening is an experiment to see if Indonesia's market has matured to the point of supporting such a high-end retailing brand. “We will be careful and not rush and open many Galeries Lafayette,” says Sharma. More competition is also entering the market so the brand needs to stand apart from its competition. “The secret is the differentiation, by design of the store, choice of the brand, service and loyalty. It's a different feeling, we don't sell basic goods, but we sell fashion goods and the French appeal is different,” Phillipe says. “We are not in the retail business, we are in the retail-tainment business—it's both retail and entertainment.”