Ukraine’s luxury market dominated by stagnation
CPP-LUXURY.COM has recently interviewed Maurizio Aschero, an Italian luxury industry professional based in Ukraine on the latest developments and future trends of the Ukrainian market.
You are one of the most experienced luxury retail professionals with a solid experience in Ukraine. What have been the most important luxury market developments in the first 6 months of 2011? (fashion, accessories, home/interior)
Strangely the most important thing has been the immobility of this stagnating market. We can consider it as a good first half because no important stores shut down. Instead, few new doors have opened: Ermanno Scervino, Ralph Lauren Home, some multibrands, but nothing epical.
There is some movement of the Shopping Center’ side: few more are opening, but still they lack of concept, management and international brands.
What has been the impact of the international recession on Ukraine’s luxury market? Has the profile of consumers changed?
Generally the turnover of the luxury stores decreased. Some very much, other less. The consumers are getting smarter. Obviously, the filthy rich keep spending on useless items as usual, so they don’t change attitude. But the wise customers are wiser than ever, and the brands are adapting their strategies to the new generations. Less bullshit and show-off, more concrete stuff. This is the real change. And now we are waiting for another wave of crisis. It will be interesting to see how the brands will adapt….
Which are the most successful international luxury brands (fashion, accessories) in Ukraine?
Definitely Vuitton, Gucci, YSL, Prada, the usual suspects. In a smaller scale, Tom Ford is doing quite good, Celine, Louboutin, and few other. But stagnation reigns, so far. And it will for a long time. We are not in China!
Several new luxury hotels such as Fairmont, Swissotel, Hilton have been announced for Kiev in the next 2 years. Why none of these projects include retail space? Is Kiev mostly a street location for luxury brands?
Their locations are not great, first of all. Therefore investing in second-choice place is not interesting for the local retailers. More, the luxury brands care a lot about the environment, and usually in the hotel here this is not exactly the most exciting. Frankly: fashion stores in the hotels simply are not profitable. Why bother?
Kiev would be a great location for street-stores, it is a beautiful city. Sadly, the custom laws, the cost of the premises are unbearable, and besides the few courageous attempt,s no one is really keen in investing so much for such a low return and high risk.
Which major luxury brands are likely to enter Ukraine in 2012?
Prada is due to open into the first half, they delayed their plans (it was forecasted end of 2011). We are also expecting Christian Dior to open a mono-brand store in Kiev any time soon.
Local fashion designers have been growing their business. Do you think we can speak of a local Ukrainian luxury brand?
We can speak of Ukrainian creative brands. Luxury is a concept which implies too many variables which are absent today in this country. From raw materials to accuracy, from investments to distribution. But creativity is great, and it is more and more recognized. This September, Maas Markets and Ukrainian Fashion Week succeeded in convincing WHITE to focus on Ukraine, and WHITE managers are fine experts, indeed . They spotted Ukraine already long time ago, and now they decided to give a chance to local designers. So we will be presenting 7 designers there. It is a great achievement, and a sign of respect which honours our designers. They strive hard, and some will succeed, in spite of the difficulties and obstacles.
You have recently announced you are venturing into a new project, a major online store. Could you please provide us with details? – mix of brands, product category, marketing strategy, target
Ukraine is still lacking a real e-shop in fashion, apparel, accessories, life-style. Times are mature now for launching www.label.ua, a new project targeting the premium and luxury segments of the markets. As the main investor is the “king” of internal logistic (a perfect organization for delivering good in 12 hours all over Ukraine), and we have a strong IT team already working, we are now preparing for the launch, which will be in December-January, definitely with the SS2012, for which we are already buying collections worldwide, while we keep looking for new products. Heavy investments are in place already.
We start with shoes and accessories, and we will improve very fast and in a large scale. It is an extremely exciting project, and we are hiring the best managers we can find in the market and we are closing partnerships with buyers abroad. We need products, products, and more products. So, every cool company reading this, is welcome to contact me.
Before venturing to set up Maas Markets companies and LABEL.UA e-tailer, Maurizio Aschero was the COO of Helen Marlen Group, being instrumental in the opening of major franchises in Ukraine, such as Gucci, Burberry, Salvatore Ferragamo, Roberto Cavalli, Bottega Veneta, Yves Saint Laurent.