The leading Turkish clothing brand LC Waikiki, opened its first official store in Turkmenistan at the Berkarar Shopping and Entertainment Center in capital Ashgabat on May 13, 2022.
Marking this event, Fatih Aral, the Assistant General Manager - International Franchise Business at LC Waikiki, gave an interview to Business Turkmenistan.
To what do you attribute the high demand for your brand in Turkey and abroad?
As LC Waikiki, we have been working to provide our customers with fashion and quality at affordable prices with our mission "Everyone deserves to dress well" since 1997. Today, we serve our customers with nearly 1,200 stores in 56 countries on 4 continents. We host approximately 13 million customers a week in our stores, and we sell 520 million products a year. We are the market leader in 22 of the countries in which we operate and we are the sixth largest clothing retailer in Europe. Our goal is to be among the top three global clothing brands in the next few years.
One of the most important reasons for the intense interest for our brand abroad is our store strategy. First, we decided to open stores in countries geographically closer to Turkey, where consumer behavior is relatively similar to ours. I can say that the opening of our stores in regions close to Turkey allowed us to see our shortcomings from the moment we started working, easily respond to the shopping habits of our customers and train our team to work in different countries.
First of all, we attach importance to the visibility of our stores that we plan to open abroad. We act meticulously in determining the location of each new store we will open abroad. It is very important for us on which floor we will be in the shopping center or on which side of the street we will position our store.
As LC Waikiki, we have stores in both the northern and southern hemispheres. In this process, learning about our future customers is a very important part of country entrances. Every country's culture, living standards, habits are different. For this, we manage a customer understanding process that continues before the product enters the store, from the model and price determination stage to after-sales support. For this, we have our customer insights team at our head office and Product Commercial Managers in all our stores who contact the center. At the same time, we research the shopping habits of consumers and determine the products in our stores in accordance with the trends and fashion of that country. In doing so, we both use our own past sales data and carefully monitor the local market conditions.
How many branches do you currently have abroad Do you plan to expand your network of stores abroad in the future?
LC Waikiki has over 600 stores overseas. By the end of 2022, we plan to launch stores in nine more countries and open a total of 150 new stores. Last year, we entered eight new countries, opening more than 100 new stores. At the same time, we took a step towards our fourth continent, South America, with the stores we opened in Peru and Ecuador, and experienced the pride of being the first Turkish brand to enter the continent.
We also aim to expand the reach of our stores, increase our multilateral sales experience in certain countries, and offer products at affordable prices. We plan to further improve our operations and partnerships in countries where we maintain market competitiveness by building effective relationships with consumers.
What are the main criteria you are guided by when conducting market research for opening a store in the country?
We have some criteria that we examine before investing in stores abroad and that affect our decision mechanism. In countries that have reached a certain scale in terms of economy and population, we pay attention to the compatibility of the laws of the respective countries with the values of LC Waikiki, the market situation, the convenience of the store location and the human factor. In addition, we analyze the country's customs tax laws and currency regimes, and make investment decisions in the respective country. Since entry alone is not possible due to the laws and regulations of the countries, we are moving forward with our franchise business partners.
The most important information we have in new country entries is data on the challenges we have faced in different markets in the past and the successes we have achieved. This information serves as a guide for us at every new country entry. Before entering a new market, we listen and follow the customer in that country. We look at whether their needs are included in our plans and review our possibilities to respond to these needs.
What do you think about the potential of the Turkmen market? Do you plan to open new stores in different parts of the country?
We expanded our investments in Turkmenistan, which we entered in May and which is a new market for us, to five years and opened our first store in Berkarar Shopping and Entertainment Center in Ashgabat. Our store has attracted great interest since the day it opened. The positive feedback we received from our customers and the successful graphic we achieved in a short time increased our desire for investment in the country. We will continue to open new stores in Ashgabat. We want to offer accessible fashion to more of our customers by opening new stores in the cities of Mary, Turkmenbashi and Balkanabat.