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Desigual Looks to Expand, Compete with Zara

Spanish fashion brand Desigual is looking to grow its presence through expansion in Europe and other emerging markets and by capitalizing on expert predictions of a bright future for womenswear.

Speaking to Reuters, the Barcelona-based company’s managing director, Manel Jadraque said, “In the next three years we plan to grow about 20-25 percent a year. The big idea is to double the company every four years.”

Desigual, in business since 1984, expanded beyond its Spain home base, bringing stores to sixty new countries in the last three years. In October 2013 alone, Desigual opened three new stores in France, two in Italy and its first in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

“We want to focus on fewer countries but on penetrating more,” Jadraque told Reuters. “Asia is tough. They have different tastes from Europe but South America is doing well.”

Characterized by vivid colors and statement prints, Desigual is nothing if not bold. The brand made its runway debut at New York Fashion Week last September with a spring/summer 2014 collection titled, “For everybody. Sex, Fun & Love.” Top fashion models Tali Lennox and Amber Le Bon walked the runway exclusively for the collection that Desigual said, “radiates a passion, excitement and enthusiasm for life that characterizes the brand and embodies the slogan LIFE IS COOL.”

In looking to benefit from a growth in womenswear and the market for fashion, which Jadraque said he expects will double in the next ten years, Desigual plans to expand heavily in Germany and foresees positive growth in Spain amid the economic recovery. The brand will also introduce footwear and perfume to its product line offering.

According to research firm Market Line, the global women’s clothing industry is expected to exceed $621 billion in 2014, marking a 12 percent increase in five years. With the European Union (E.U.) representing 35 percent of the global market, further and more rapid expansion in Europe could be a boon for the retailer.

Desigual opened its new corporate headquarters in Barcelona last June where close to 1,000 employees with an average age of thirty work together to design and develop the feel of the brand. With a name that means “atypical,” Desigual’s cutting-edge space allows workers to sit wherever they please as there are no designated territories and the entire building is designed with an open concept layout. That, plus the independence employees are given, fosters creativity and direct communication among departments, the company says.

With its plans for steady growth and product expansion, Desigual sees an opportunity to compete with Zara’s parent company Inditex, which as the world’s largest apparel retailer has consistently been the model many other retailers strive to keep up with.

The company is now targeting sales of 1 billion euro ($1.35 billion) for 2014, up from about 820 million in 2013 and 440 million four years ago, according to Reuters.

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