Longchamp has clearly turned its attention to international markets, already driving more than a third of its turnover from outside Europe, with a significant presence in China, Korea and Japan. In 2009, Longchamp selected Yourcegid Retail to improve the performance of its retail activity and turn it into a more responsive operation.
Created in 1948, Longchamp took its name from the Paris racetrack familiar to Jean Cassegrain, founder and father of the current CEO, and the galloping horse became the brand’s symbol. For more than 60 years, the company and the brand have remained in the hands of the founding family, protected from the vicissitudes of the stock market. Longchamp’s original values have been preserved: leather of impeccable quality combined with exquisite finishing. In the same vein, production is still concentrated in France. Most products are manufactured by the 800 employees of the company’s factory at Segré, a town in the Maine et Loire département. But Longchamp’s business has changed over time. Whereas it was originally a leather goods producer, it is now a more comprehensive fashion company. It has also evolved from a manufacturer/wholesaler into a retailer. Longchamp is now an international brand, with stores in the United States, China, Korea, and Japan. Overall, one-third of the company’s turnover is generated from outside Europe.
The brand has increased its international presence through company-owned stores and department store concessions. Every store location is subject to the same dual objectives. Firstly, the brand’s identity must be preserved, regardless of where the store is located. Secondly, the store must adapt to the local market. In summary, to pursue its international expansion, the company must strike a subtle balance every time. “Despite the current market conditions, this is what will enable the company to secure long-term growth,” says André Louit, Chief Financial Officer of Longchamp.
Longchamp launches two new collections per year. “The brand’s positioning in the fashion market requires us to renew our product ranges quickly,” Mr Louit explains. “Speed has become a performance criterion in our market, and we must have the right tools that enable us to achieve it.”
Longchamp has been using Yourcegid Retail to manage its sales and run its stores for about 10 years. But in 2009 the company embarked upon a new phase in their international strategy. This involved the deployment of vertical solutions in Europe in the first half of the year and in Japan at the end of the year.
Many factors prompted Longchamp to adopt Yourcegid Retail for its international development. Language localisation was among them of course, but more importantly, the software takes into account each country’s legislative, cultural, social and economic environment.
Yourcegid Retail will enable Longchamp to significantly improve the customer experience. For example, payment processing will be simplified and VAT refunds better managed. Management of the shop network will also be strengthened. Mr Louit predicts that “it will be easier and quicker for us to track all stores on the basis of key performance indicators such as turnover per sq. m., the number of items and average shopping basket value.”
The overall objective is to harmonise management practices while taking advantage of the initiatives of each business unit. To support this, the system will allow the implementation of more finely-tuned management in two main aspects. Vertically, the head office will gain an overall view of the business; horizontally, every country will be able to benefit from best-of-breed practices. All of this will be configured with Cegid Web Access technology, providing real-time communication and quicker response times.
We recently caught up with Andre Louit – CFO of Longchamp to find out their global retail challenges and how they overcome them. Watch the video below: