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Inditex to close 1200 smaller stores, invest online

Inditex plans to close up to 1200 smaller stores globally as it invests more than €2.7 billion in expanding its online capacity and focusing on an integrated network of large-format stores. 

Unveiling a strategic plan for the next two years, Inditex executive chairman Pablo Isla said the company expects online sales to account for 25 per cent of total revenue by 2022, compared with just 14 per cent last year. 

Most of the stores set for closure are older shops carrying banners other than Zara. They collectively account for 5 to 6 per cent of total sales. 

Ultimately, Inditex will have a network of between 6700 and 6900 stores, down from the 7412 it operates today. About 450 new stores will be opened fitted with “all the latest sales integration technology” and effectively replacing the smaller-sized stores, which Isla says are less well positioned to offer new-generation customer experiences. 

“This strategy is a culmination of the project the company has been investing in steadily and significantly since 2012, a project that will transform its profile notably,” said Isla. “The overriding goal between now and 2022 is to speed up full implementation of our integrated-store concept, driven by the notion of being able to offer our customers uninterrupted service no matter where they find themselves, on any device and at any time of the day.” 

The company believes that boosting online sales, underpinned by an integrated online-store network, with larger, higher-quality stores, will help generate 4 to 6 per cent like-for-like sales growth annually.

Part of the plan will see a boost to Inditex’s Bershka, Pull&Bear and Stradivarius brands in China and Japan.

Inditex’s two-year strategy was revealed alongside the company’s first-quarter results announcement where it said it had limited the overall decline in sales to 44 per cent in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, despite 88 per cent of its store network being shuttered at some point. Online sales surged 50 per cent during the quarter and by 95 per cent year on year in April. 

Global sales totalled €3.3 billion in the three months to April 30, gross margin remained at 58.4 per cent of sales and inventories reduced by 10 per cent during the past year.

A net loss of €175 million was recorded and the company has made a provision of €308 million related to its restructuring plan.

Inditex closed the year with a cash position of €5.8 billion, compared to €6.7 billion a year earlier.

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