The Kooples: why the French label's acquisition is a clever operation for Maus Frères group
The purchase of French men’s and women’s label The Kooples by the Maus Frères group was a surprise operation among the various mergers and acquisitions in the fashion industry this year. The Swiss group, also the owner of Lacoste, Gant and Aigle, finalised the deal at the end of May, buying the label from the Elicha brothers, its existing management and the LBOFrance investment fund.
“The Kooples would complement our portfolio with its directional, urban/rocker brand positioning, evolving in the accessible luxury direction. We are attracted by its positioning and potential, which enabled the label to grow in balanced fashion with womenswear and menswear right from its inception,” said Didier Maus, president of the board of directors for the Swiss group, when the acquisition project was announced last March.
To establish the label’s actual positioning, FashionNetwork.com asked its partner Retviews, a marketing metrics specialist in the fashion, luxury and retail sectors, to use its expertise to analyse the product range available on The Kooples’s e-tail site between February and June.
The first finding was that the label’s range is slightly skewed in favour of womenswear. This is an asset, since the brand portfolio of Maus Frères International, led by Thierry Guibert, consists of labels with more of a masculine imprint, such as Lacoste, Gant and Aigle.
However, by catering to both men and women, The Kooples stands out among its accessible luxury competitors in France. “The Kooples, compared to its competitors, makes a much more extensive use of dark colours. Black and grey account for 50% of its collection, as opposed to about 35% for labels like Sandro and Maje,” observed Retviews.
In terms of product categories, The Kooples is strong on trousers. They are the most extensively featured product type after t-shirts, no doubt a consequence of the label’s rocker vibe. According to Retviews, The Kooples features between 1.2 and 3 times more trousers than its competitors.
On the other hand, skirts are a potential growth category for the label, as well as tops and cardigans. Altogether, the number of items offered by The Kooples is very high, and Maus Frères may seek to streamline the product range.
A category which The Kooples has developed extensively in the last few years is handbags. The policy seems to be paying off since, according to Retviews data, the label’s signature handbag, the ‘Irina Nano red crocodile’ promoted by top model Irina Shayk, has not been discounted, and is still on sale at €350. The item sold out several times on The Kooples’s e-tail site, and has been restocked regularly between December 2018 and June 2019.
Besides the Irina Nano, the label’s handbag range is highly targeted. “The Kooples is aiming for a specific clientèle, with a medium-high pricepoint at around €400,” said Retviews. A positioning which distinguishes The Kooples from its competitors. Maje’s pricepoints range from €150 to €300, while Zadig & Voltaire features a more extensive range, between €225 and €1,295, seemingly with three clearly identified price brackets.
In terms of clothes, the know-how of Maus Frères is likely to add to The Kooples’s resources, while the label’s successful first steps in the handbag and luggage segments could become an asset for the other brands owned by the Swiss multinational.
Maus Frères has appointed Romain Guinier as general manager of The Kooples, tasking him with developing the label, growing its €227 million revenue and adding to its 334 stores.
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