Nine West Footwear seeks a win-win-win situation in Russia
Tom Gibb, President of the US footwear corporation’s international division, says Nine West and its partner in Russia, the Apparel Group, are committed to offering fashion footwear at an affordable price.
“We want the consumer to win, the licensee to win and the company to win,” he told Passport during a recent trip to Moscow.
“We can supply our consumer with go to work shoes, go to play shoes and go to cocktail party shoes,” he added.
Nine West operates in 57 countries through 13 licensees Gibb told Passport. “We like to grow from within,” he quipped, pointing out that this way “we know each other”.
This is the case with their Russian partner, the Dubai-based Apparel Group, with whom they work in a number of countries. Apparel Group operates 228 stores in the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, India, Poland, Singapore, Jordan, Thailand and Malaysia before opening in Russia where they already have four Nine West stores. Apparel works with 29 brands including Tommy Hilfiger, Bally and Mango.
Working with Nine West they already have four stores operating in Russia – one each in Moscow (Yevropeisky Mall) and Nizhny Novgorod (Mega Mall) and two in St Petersburg.
“Russia is a challenging market,” said Gibb. “The most important consideration for us was choosing the right partner. We particularly needed a partner who could get us into prime real estate and who would work with us to protect the image of the brand.”
“I am a firm believer that you only get one opportunity to launch , and you have to launch correctly; otherwise you harm the brand,” Gibb said as we sat in the Balchug Kempinski with Govind Bharwani, Apparel Group’s General Manager from Dubai, and Ashwani Chopra, the group’s country manager from Russia.
Nine West was founded in 1977 by Jerome Fisher and Vince Camuto as a women's fashion footwear brand. Taking the name from its first address at 9 West 57th Street in New York City , Nine West was one of the first companies to utilize the expertise in leather and shoemaking in Brazil. Nine West quickly became known for style and quality at an affordable price. In 1997, Nine West added handbags and small leather goods as a natural extension to the brand. Through licensing agreements, Nine West grew into a total lifestyle brand with sunglasses, legwear, outerwear, jewelry, belts, watches, cold weather accessories, hats, and eyewear.
Once known only for shoes, Nine West is now a trusted fashion advisor in every category. Nine West offers a quick edit of the runways - pinpointing the “must-have” looks through the Hot 9. Consumers have come to rely on the Hot 9 for the latest and hottest looks each season.
The company delivers a large variety of high quality and modern fashion, sportswear and accessories to aspirational, chic women “who demand what's hot and what's new” and their push into Russia can only be helped by their recent adoption of international model, Natasha Poly, a Russian native with Slavic features and a versatile frame, as the ‘face’ of Nine West.
With the Apparel Group they have been in Russia nine months, but studied the market for over two years. They are here to stay and likely to open many more stores in the near future.
“This could be second only to China in size of market for us,” said Gibb. “ And I suspect that our boots will be a big seller here. There’s not much demand for them in Dubai,” he quipped.
As well as opening malls and shopping centers, Nine West is searching for a high street flagship store location in Moscow.