Havaianas has opened its largest store in the U.K. at London’s Westfield mall, part of the company’s wider expansion strategy in Europe and the Middle East.
Plans for next year include doubling the brand’s 155 stores in the EMEA region and entering into markets such as Croatia, Slovenia and Switzerland for the first time.
There will also be further openings in the U.K. in key coastal regions where the brand’s summer spirit is best suited. Havaianas already has retail stores in 27 locations, including Covent Garden and Carnaby Street in London, and in Brighton and Gatwick Airport. It also has a pop-up shop in Selfridges.
Merel Warners, Havaianas’ marketing director in the EMEA region, told Fairchild that last month’s Brexit referendum will not stall the company’s expansion plans.
“The majority of business is done euros and the majority of our costs are in euros or in Brazilian reals. So it will really not impact our business significantly. And again, we’ve monitored it, but there is no need of panic at all,” explained Werners.
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The addition of other categories is also in the works, in order to establish a full lifestyle brand that can dress people from “toe to top.”
“We will always start with the toes because flip-flops are the basis of all we do, but we are also starting to launch different categories,” Werners said.
Apparel was first launched in 2014 in Brazil and will enter the European markets, starting with Spain, Portugal and Italy, for the spring/summer 2017 season.
The brand has also signed a licensing agreement with the Italian eyewear group Safilo for sunglasses. The inaugural range will launch during the Olympics in Rio next month, followed by a European launch in 2017.
Warners said the company chose Westfield for its millions of annual visitors and brand mix. “As we grow into a global company it’s great to be positioned next to leading fashion and lifestyle brands,” she said.
Werners also said the brand is looking to tap into both domestic consumers who visit the mall, as well as tourists. She drew a comparison with the Havaianas store on Plaza de Catalunya in central Barcelona, which has been successfully drawing locals and tourists since its opening.
“We always say that we are the ice cream of footwear, we use that expression a lot; if the weather is great, the sales are great,” said Warners. “In a country like Spain, people would not wear flip flops at 18 degrees but in the U.K. as soon as it gets a little warmer, we see the first English consumers wearing our product – even in February.”
The 968-sq.-ft. space features the same design concept as the rest of the Havaianas stores worldwide and was developed alongside the architectural firm, Gensler.
“We started implementing this new concept two years ago, so every store that’s opened since 2014 has the same look and feel, whether you are in Sao Paolo, London, Rome or Barcelona.
“It’s really inspired by the market stalls in Brazil, we show the product in baskets and there is a lot of consistency from the scents in the store, to the music we play, we always make sure we play Brazilian music,” said Werners.
Havaianas has recently collaborated with British brands including Charlotte Olympia and Liberty of London to create custom designs of their signature flip-flops, which mostly sold out before the start of the summer.
“The collaborations really elevate the brand and help us to stay connected with the top of the pyramid, reinforcing our fashion status. We know that those top consumers love our product, as they were the first in Europe to embrace it,” said Werners.
There are no additional partnerships in the lineup, however, and Werners stressed the company aims to take a “quantity over quality” approach and focus on projects that feel authentic.