German garment retail – still dominated by department stores

In Fall 2018 I was commissioned to help an international fashion retailer validate their European expansion plans. A short trip to Frankfurt highlighted just how key the local department stores are to fashion brands – but also just how much they need to improve their differentiation from one another in order to survive. I was particularly impressed by Applerath and Cüpper who stood out from the crowd with a strong site on Ziel, clear premium positioning and authoritative VM. My question is whether the rest of the pack even deserve to survive: by reducing brands’ collections to mere commodity items and failing to create a stimulating store environment they simply play into the hands of the internet giants who can offer keener prices with their lower cost operational models.

When most department stores have the same brands, it’s important what you do differently….
Ziel remains the key location in Frankfurt – busy late into this Saturday evening, but customers deserve far more excitement than was in evidence in Frankfurt in November.

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