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Zara Case

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Carmen Lopez Ying Fan Brunel Business School Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management (2009), 13:2, 279-296

INTRODUCTION Zara is one of the world’s most successful fashion retailers operating in 59 countries. However, there is little research about the firm in English as the majority of publications have been written in Spanish. This paper seeks to address this gap in the literature by examining the internationalisation process of Zara. This study adopts an in-depth case approach based on extensive secondary research. Literature published in both English and Spanish has been reviewed, including company documents such as annual reports. The paper starts with a brief overview of the global textile and clothing industry, followed by the case study of Zara. The main part of the case examines the key aspects in the internationalisation of Zara namely: motives for internationalisation, market selection, entry strategies, and international marketing strategies. In the final section, comparisons are made between Zara and two of its main competitors, H&M and Gap. The global textile and clothing industry The removal of all import quotas in the textile and clothing industry from January 2005, involving the unrestricted access of all members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to the European, American and Canadian markets is considered a key driving force in the development of the clothing sector (Keenan, et al., 2004). This new scenario has created opportunities for large exporters like China and India


that are considerably increasing their market share whilst at the same time creating challenges for European Union member states in order to remain competitive internationally. The major trends that are restructuring and characterising the textile and clothing sector are as follows: • The European textile and clothing industry is characterised by fragmented production with a large number of small and medium-sized companies mainly located in Italy, Great Britain, France, Germany and Spain (Nordas, 2004), whilst distribution channels are highly concentrated (Stengg, 2001). • Increasing internationalisation in the textile and apparel sector and the emergence of international competitors (Cerviño, 1998). Consolidation of the sector through mergers, acquisitions (Dunford, 2004) and strategic alliances (Samiee, 1995). • Sub-contracting or delocalisation of textile and clothing production to countries with lower labour and transportation costs and reduced lead-time (Berkeley and Steuer, 2000). • Re-evaluation of the business models to adapt to the customers´ changing taste (KPMG, 2005). Fashion companies are becoming more flexible and vertically organised, limited vertical integration being more frequent than complete integration (Samiee, 1995). Adoption of new technology to expand productivity and increase competitiveness (Berkeley and Steuer, 2000). • Democratisation of the fashion sector over the last decades (Mazaira, et al., 2003). Zara has contributed greatly to this shift by offering the latest design at attractive prices.


THE CASE OF ZARA Established in 1975, Zara is the flagship of Inditex (Industria del Diseño Textil, S.A.), a holding company located in Galicia (north-west Spain). In a relatively short time frame Inditex has become the world’s second largest clothing retailer with 2,692 stores spread across 62 countries worldwide by the end of January 2006. In addition to Zara which accounted for 66 percent of the group’s turnover in 2005, Inditex owns seven other clothing chains: Kiddy’s Class (children’s fashion), Pull and Bear (youth casual clothes), Massimo Dutti (quality and conventional fashion), Bershka (avantgarde clothing), Stradivarius (trendy garments for young women), Oysho (undergarment chain) and Zara Home (household textiles). The Zara Concept Zara’s aim, according to Amancio Ortega, founder of Inditex, is to democratise fashion by offering the latest fashion in medium quality at affordable prices. What differentiates Zara’s business model from that of its competitors is the turnaround time, and the store as a source of information. Zara’s vertical integration of design, just-in-time manufacturing, delivery and sales; flexible structure; low inventory rule; quick response policy and advanced information technology enable a quick response to customer’s changing demands (Castellano, 1993; 2002). A completely new piece of clothing can be designed, manufactured and delivered in less than four weeks. Changes of an existing garment can be put on display within two weeks, much faster than the competition (The Economist, 2005). Zara internally manufactures its ´live collections´, the most receptive garments to fashion, which account for almost half of its production, and outsources those that are not subject to seasonal variation. About 11,000 new items are launched every year (Ghemawat and Nueno, 2003).


The store acts not only as a point of sale but also influences the design and speed of production. It is the end and starting point of the business system. Zara’s production cycle starts with customers´ judgements on the new designs of clothes and the information collected by staff members who travel to fashion cities, observing people on the streets, browsing publications and visiting the venues that are frequented by their potential customers (Fabrega, 2004). What distinguishes Zara from its competitors is the feedback that Zara’s managers get from the customers at the point of sale about new garments or new products that they are interested in. Store managers report the demands of customers and the sales trends to the headquarters on a daily basis. The design group will use the feedback to create new articles or modifications to the existing goods and then deliver the items to the stores (Martinez, 1997). Every store receives small batches of products twice a week, avoiding large inventories and creating a “climate of scarcity and opportunity” (Crawford, 2000). Around 60 percent of its products are permanent and the remaining 40 percent vary continually. The company estimates that customers visit a Zara store 17 times a year on average, compared to merely four visits for other fashion firms (Castro, 2003). The outlets are situated in main commercial areas and the interiors are designed to create a unique atmosphere with attractive window displays. The firm spends only 0.3 percent of its annual turnover on advertising (Ghemawat and Nueno, 2003), normally at the beginning of the sales season or the occasion of a new store opening. The store is considered its most effective communication tool.

The two key factors in Zara’s business model – the time factor and the store as a source of information – demonstrate the company’s customer-orientation. Zara continuously adapts to market demands, aiming to deliver a unique service to the


customer. The quality of customer service and other variables like the music, temperature and layout are evaluated by using a mystery shopper (Monllor, 2001). Zara follows a market-based pricing strategy which sets the target prices that the buyer is willing to pay. The budget for the cost of the material, production and suppliers is fixed according to the target price and the profit margin that the management department wants to achieve with that item (Bonache and Cerviño, 1996; Mazaira, et al., 2003).

Over the past 30 years, Inditex has built a brand portfolio (see Table 1 for details) through brand acquisition -`Massimo Dutti´ in 1991 and `Stradivarius´ in the year 1999-; and brand development by using a multi-brand strategy and an extension strategy. In line with the multi-brand strategy, `Zara´ was created in 1975, `Pull & Bear´ in 1991, `Kiddy’s Class´ in 1993, `Bershka´ in 1998 and `Oysho´ in the year 2001. The extension strategy was applied to `Zara Home´. Inditex used the name of the existing brand `Zara´ to take advantage of the transfer of associations between the flagship product and the extended one, `Zara Home´.
Table 1 Inditex’s brand portfolio, January 2006
Zara 852 65,9 1975 Pull & Bear 427 6,6 1991 Massimo Dutti 369 7,9 1991 Kiddy´s Class 149 2,3 1993 Bershka 368 9,5 1998 Women and men, ages 1323 Avant-garde clothing Medium-low Medium Stradivarius 263 5,1 1999 Women, ages 15-25 Trendy clothing Medium-low Medium Oysho 154 1,6 2001 Youths Zara Home 110 1,2 2003 N.A.

No of stores % of Inditex Year of foundation/ acquisition Target


Price Quality

Women, men Women and men, Women and men, Children, ages 0and children, ages 14-28 ages 25-45 16 ages 0-45 Fast-fashion Casual clothes Quality and Children´s clothing conventional fashion fashion Medium-low Medium-low Medium-high Medium-low Medium Medium Medium-high Medium


Hosehold clothing Medium-low Medium

Medium-low Medium

Source: Compiled from annual reports; press dossiers; Blanco and Salgado (2004); Fabrega (2004); Ghemawat and Nueno (2003); Monllor (2001).

All these brands were built within the domestic market and then launched for international markets. This multi-brand portfolio has allowed Inditex to target different segments more effectively. However, the cost of maintaining several brands


and the risk of cannibalisation are the major drawbacks of this strategy. Inditex has tackled cannibalisation by differentiating the brands mainly through the product, target market, presentation and retail image (Fabrega, 2004).

The success of the Zara concept is also reflected in the impact that the company has created in the fashion industry that brought changes in the organisational methods of other clothing retailers, namely Benetton and Mango (Cinco Dias, 2003), and has even obliged luxury fashion brands like Gucci and Burberry to increase the rotation of their goods and develop sister brands to expand their customer base (Fernie, et al., 1997; Foroohar, 2005).

THE INTERNATIONALISATION OF ZARA Zara opened its first store in 1975 in La Coruña, north-west Spain. During the 1980s, Zara expanded within the domestic market, opening stores in all Spanish cities with a population greater than 100,000 inhabitants (Ghemawat and Nueno, 2003). The international expansion of Zara started with the opening of a store in Oporto (Portugal) in 1988. By the end of January 2006, Zara was operating in 59 countries with 852 stores: 664 stores were located in Europe (259 in Spain), 112 in America, 45 in the Middle-East and Africa and 31 in Asia. International sales accounted for 69 percent of its total turnover in 2005, with Europe being its largest market by far. This section will discuss the internationalisation process of Zara focusing on three issues: motivation, market selection and entry options.


Figure I International presence of Zara
1975 Europe Spain Portugal France Greece Belgium Sweden Malta Cyprus Great Britain Turkey Germany Netherlands Poland Andorra Austria Denmark Czech Rep. Iceland Ireland Italy Luxembourg Finland Switzerland Slovenia Russia Estonia Latvia Romania Hungary Lithuania Monaco Subtotal Americas USA Mexico Argentina Venezuela Canada Chile Brazil Uruguay Puerto Rico El Salvador Dominican Republic Panama Costa Rica Subtotal Asia-Pacific Japan Singapore Malaysia Hong Kong Indonesia Philippines Subtotal Middle East/Africa Israel Lebanon Kuwait United Arab Emirates Saudi Arabia Bahrain Qatar Jordan Morocco Subtotal Number of countries 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 No. of stores Jan 2006 259 46 90 38 18 4 1 3 45 13 41 6 11 1 8 4 3 1 5 36 2 4 8 3 6 1 1 1 2 2 1 664 18 39 6 9 14 5 14 2 1 1 1 1 1 112 18 3 3 4 2 1 31 14 2 4 5 16 1 1 1 1 45 852




















Source: Adapted from Ghemawat and Nueno (2003)

Motives for Internationalisation Existing literature has classified the motives for retail internationalisation into push and pulls factors. Push factors are those that encourage the organization to search for international opportunities. Pull factors involve attractive conditions in the host


market (Alexander, 1995b). The limited market growth opportunities at home was the main influence on Zara’s decision to expand internationally as recalled by Jose Maria Castellano, former CEO of Inditex: “Of course before opening the first store in the host market, we had the feeling and then we knew for certain that the Spanish fashion and design market was on the verge of saturation” (Martinez, 1997). In addition to the maturity of market, there was a change in Spanish consumer behaviour over this period, with increased spending in their spare time on travelling and education, and less on clothes.

The key pull factors that explain the internationalisation of Zara include Spain’s entry into the European Union in 1986, the globalisation of the economy and thus potential economies of scale, the homogenisation of consumption patterns across countries – Zara’s belief is that “national frontiers are no impediment to sharing a single fashion culture” – and the abolition of barriers to export as well as the development of information technology.

McGoldrick (1995, 2002) provides a third group of factors related to the organisation: the facilitators or enabling factors. The expansion of Zara in New York (1989), Paris (1990) and Milan (2001) was justified by image and status reasons (Castellano, 2002; Ortega and Blanco, 2004). These three cities are considered fashion capitals that are highly competitive. The USA offered Zara the opportunity to learn first hand about its American competitor Gap and consumers in a large market with an interest in fashion. The USA was perceived to be a high risk market, a view justified with hindsight (Martinez, 1997). Amancio Ortega wrote in his 1998 annual report regarding the learning experience: “International expansion is the objective that cannot be delayed


and will allow us to enrich our culture and vision of the market”. Last but not least, the internationalisation involved the spreading of cost and risk into different markets.

Table 2 Motives behind Zara’s internationalisation Push factors Inhibitors Facilitators International status Learning process Spreading cost and risk Pull factors Spain joined the EU Economies of scale Globalisation Abolition of economic barriers Growth chances Cultural affinities Information technologies

Saturation Administrative barriers Low growth opportunities Geographic distance Changes in consumer behavior Low economic development Different seasonality Cultural distance Lack of experience Risk perception
Source: Adapted from McGoldrick (2002)

Market Selection The internationalisation of Zara seems to follow the classic `stage model´ (Johanson and Wiedersheim-Paul, 1975; Bilkey and Tesar, 1977 and Cavusgil, 1980) by firstly entering geographically or culturally close markets before taking opportunities in more distant markets. Zara has moved through a learning curve during these stages. These phases are described in detail as follows:

Reluctance and trial: Between 1975 and 1988 Zara focused its expansion in the domestic market. The maturity of the Spanish market led Zara to search for international opportunities in 1988. Portugal was an attractive and familiar market due to its geographical and cultural proximity to Spain. By opening a store in Oporto, Zara acquired experience and knowledge and realised that it had to adjust its business model to suit the new markets (Bonache and Cerviño, 1996; Fabrega, 2004).

Cautious expansion (1989-1996): During this stage Zara expanded into markets geographically and/or psychologically proximate and with a minimum


level of socio-economic development, adding one or two countries per year to its market portfolio. In 1990 Zara started operating in France (Paris) a geographically contiguous country, a fashion capital and a starting point for the later expansion in Northern Europe -Belgium and Sweden-, in 1994 (Bonache and Cerviño, 1996). Mexico was added in 1992. This market, though geographically distant, is culturally close to the home country Spain, and provided with a reference of the South American market. Greece was next in 1993, followed by Malta and Cyprus in 1995 and 1996 respectively. The exception at this stage is the opening of a store in 1989 in New York, a distant and very competitive market. It was a strategic decision by Zara to build brand awareness and international prestige and to get close to fashion trends (Bonache and Cerviño, 1996; Martinez, 1997). • Aggressive expansion (1997-2005): The experience gained in the international environment made Zara more determined and intent on a rapid global expansion, regardless of cultural or geographical proximity. Zara started this stage by opening a store in Israel in 1997. One year later, 1998, Zara entered eight countries, consolidating its presence in the Middle East with Kuwait, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates. Argentina along with Venezuela, Great Britain, Japan and Turkey were also added in 1998. This was followed by nine countries in 1999 (Germany, The Netherlands, Poland, Canada, Chile, Brazil, Uruguay, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain). Between 2000 and 2003 Zara consolidated its position in the European market as opposed to gaining a foothold in new countries. The enlargement of the European Union in 2004 justifies the considerable number of European countries that were incorporated that year. Costa Rica, Monaco, Philippines and Indonesia were added to the


market portfolio in 2005. At the beginning of 2006 Zara was operating in 59 countries with 852 stores with plans for more stores in its existing markets in Europe (France, Italy, Germany and Great Britain) and Asia as the centrepieces of its international operation (Fabrega, 2004).

Market Entry Strategies While Zara owns a majority of its stores in Spain, the international expansion has adopted three different entry modes: • Own subsidiaries: This direct investment strategy is the most expensive mode of entry and involves high levels of control and risk in case the firm exits the market. Zara has adopted this strategy for most European and South American countries that were perceived to have high growth potential and low business risk (Flavian and Polo, 2000). • Joint ventures: This is a co-operative strategy in which the manufacturing facilities and know-how of the local company are combined with the expertise of the foreign firm in the market, especially in large, competitive markets where it is difficult to acquire property to set up retail outlets or where there are other kinds of obstacles that require co-operation with a local company (Camuñas, 2003). In 1999 Zara entered into a joint venture with the German firm Otto Versand and benefited from the latter’s experience in the distribution sector and knowledge of one of the largest markets in Europe. The administrative barriers in Italy, wherein local traders decide whether an international brand could operate in a specific city and the amounts of money required for the transfer of the stores (Expansion, 2001) led Zara to link with Gruppo Percassi, a successful firm in the property sector, in 2001. The


experience of Biti in the clothing sector together with its knowledge of the property market encouraged Zara to sign an agreement with this company to enter Japan in 1998 (Castro, 2003). In Germany and Japan the deal was on a 50-50 joint venture. In Italy Inditex held a 51 percent investment in Zara. However, Zara has recently increased its ownership to 78 percent in Germany, 80 percent in Italy and 100 percent in Japan. • Franchising: This strategy is chosen for high-risk countries which are culturally distant or have small markets with low sales forecast like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Andorra or Malaysia (Flavian and Polo, 2000). Zara’s

franchisees follow the same business model as their own subsidiaries regarding the product, store location, interior design, logistic and human resources. However, they are responsible for investing in fixed assets and recruiting the staff. Zara gives franchisees the chance of returning merchandise and exclusivity in their geographic area, although Zara has the right to open its own stores in the same location (Castellano, 2002).

Table 3 presents details of the market entry strategy in each country. Zara owns 90 percent of its stores. Since Zara gained management control of the stores located in Japan, Germany and Italy, such sites have been incorporated in the group of own stores (Ghemawat and Nueno, 2003).


Table 3 Zara: Mode of entry and number of stores by country, January 2006
Country Spain Portugal USA France Mexico Greece Belgium Sweden Malta Cyprus Israel Argentina Great Britain Japan Kuwait Lebanon Turkey United Arab Emirates Venezuela Bahrain Brazil Canada Chile Germany Netherlands Poland Saudi Arabia Uruguay Andorra Austria Denmark Qatar Czech Rep. Iceland Ireland Italy Jordan Luxembourg Puerto Rico Dominican Republic El Salvador Finland Singapore Switzerland Malaysia Russia Slovenia Estonia Hong Kong Hungary Latvia Lithuania Morocco Panama Romania Costa Rica Indonesia Monaco Philippines Total Source: Compiled from annual reports; press releases; Camuñas (2003); D´Andrea and Arnold (2003); Ghewara and Nueno (2003). ¹ Zara started operating in Turkey and Russia through franchising. In 1999 and 2006 respectively Inditex purchased Zara´s franchises in both countries. ² Inditex has increased its ownership of Zara Japan, Zara Germany and Zara Italy Year established 1975 1988 1989 1990 1992 1993 1994 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999 1999 1999 1999 1999 1999 1999 1999 2000 2000 2000 2000 2001 2001 2001 2001 2001 2001 2001 2002 2002 2002 2002 2002 2003 2003 2003 2004 2004 2004 2004 2004 2004 2004 2004 2005 2005 2005 2005 Mode entry Own stores Own stores Own stores Own stores Own stores Own stores Own stores Own stores Franchising Franchising Franchising Own stores Own stores Joint venture² Franchising Franchising Franchising¹ Franchising Own stores Franchising Own stores Own stores Own stores Joint venture² Own stores Franchising Franchising Own stores Franchising Own stores Own stores Franchising Own stores Franchising Own stores Joint venture² Franchising Own stores Franchising Franchising Franchising Franchising Franchising Own stores Franchising Franchising¹ Franchising Franchising Own stores Own stores Franchising Franchising Franchising Franchising Franchising Franchising Franchising Own stores Franchising Number of stores 259 46 18 90 39 38 18 4 1 3 14 6 45 18 4 2 13 5 9 1 14 14 5 41 6 11 16 2 1 8 4 1 3 1 5 36 1 2 1 1 1 4 3 8 3 6 3 1 4 2 1 2 1 1 1 1 2 1 1 852


Once the entry decision is made for a particular country, Zara follows a pattern of expansion known in the company as “oil stain” (Castellano, 2002): Zara opens its first store, the so-called flagship store, in a strategic area with the purpose of getting information about the market and acquiring expertise. The experience guides Zara in the following phases of expansion in that country (Blanco and Salgado, 2004).

International Marketing Strategies At the early stages of internationalisation, the management at Zara was following an ethnocentric orientation whereby the “subsidiary companies had to be a replication of the Spanish stores” (Alexander and Myers, 2000; Bonache and Cerviño, 1996). However, this approach encountered unexpected difficulties in some countries due to the cultural differences. Therefore, Zara decided to move towards a geocentric orientation, allowing the company to adopt in some cases local solutions rather than merely replicate the home market. Zara sells a largely homogeneous product for a global market (Flavian and Polo, 2000). Nevertheless, there are some adjustments in its marketing mix because of the customer’s size differences in Asian countries (Monllor, 2001), laws issued that require the availability of garments for youths in all sizes in Buenos Aires (La Opinion de La Coruña, 2006), cultural differences in Arab countries where some garments cannot be sold, and a different season in the southern hemisphere (Euromonitor, 2002a). The information gathered by the store guides the decisions of the design department that finally produces those garments that can be sold in all the markets where Zara operates (Bonache and Cerviño, 1996). Each store manager, based on the customer’s remarks on the products, decides the specific garments that will be put on display in the store to meet the customer’s taste in that area (Fabrega, 2004).


Zara’s promotion strategy is the same in domestic and foreign markets. Advertisement campaigns are carried out only at the start of sales or a new store opening. Zara relies on the store as its main promotional tool. The prices of Zara’s garments differ between countries with the Spanish market being offered the lowest prices (D´Andrea and Arnold, 2003). Prices are set centrally following a marketoriented strategy. Prices in international markets are generally higher due to longer distribution channels (Ghemawat and Nueno, 2003). As in the domestic market, the store location is a critical factor in international markets. All Zara’s shops are situated in prime locations. This decision is based on an analysis of the local market environment that identifies the niche opportunities for Zara’s products in those markets, the price of competitors’ products and the recommended price to achieve a maximum level of profitability (Bonache and Cerviño, 1996). The shop window display and interior design are prototyped centrally and then replicated in all international shops by professional store decorators. Hence, Zara standardises the key strategic elements, namely the location, window display, interior design, store layout, store display rotation, customer service, information systems and logistics. The rest of the elements are customised to the market to suit local preferences (Fabrega, 2004).

Once the location for the store is identified, the next stage is the recruitment and selection of the company personnel. Initially Zara sent Spanish managers to replicate the management procedure used in Spain (Fabrega, 2004). Difficulties arose in countries like Mexico and France (Bonache and Cerviño, 1996) which made Zara change to a practice of recruiting employees locally to get a better understanding of the local market preferences (Martinez, 1997). Zara makes a great effort to transfer


know-how in order to share the same corporate values. The Head Office in Spain controls the subsidiaries to maintain Zara’s concept across its international markets (Bonache and Cerviño, 1996). Branding Considerations International retailing is regarded as the transfer of a retail brand with its associated image across national borders (Brown and Burt, 1992) so branding has an important role to play in the internationalisation of Zara. Zara has transformed itself from a local brand to a global brand in less than 30 years. Zara brand was ranked 73rd in the list of the world’s 100 top brands 2006 by Interbrand and has overtaken fashion brands like Hermes, Prada and Armani. The firm declines to use any kind of identification with its origin (Ghemawat and Nueno, 2003; Monllor, 2001). Hence, the COO effect is played down to convey a broader image. The fact that the prices of Zara’s garments are higher in the international market affects its positioning in those countries and therefore, its brand image (Ghemawat and Nueno, 2003). Zara’s products are labelled following a dualistic brand-name strategy. The company uses the name of the firm and a unique brand name for the same product group. Examples of these sub-brands are `Zara Woman´, `Zara Basic´ and `Zara Trafaluc´. The company’s 1999 annual report states that the aim of Zara is to democratise fashion and to target a broad market, especially a young segment sensitive to fashion. In line with this objective, Zara filled a niche in the Spanish market that was neglected by the department stores (Martinez, 1997) by offering the latest fashion at medium quality and attractive prices. Zara’s positioning strategy is based upon design, quality and price. In order to communicate its benefits, in some cases Zara has had to educate the market and influence consumer shopping habits (Blanco and Salgado, 2004).


ZARA’S MAIN COMPETITORS Zara’s major international competitors in terms of market share are H&M and Gap Inc. This section will first present some background information of the two firms before offering some comparison with Zara. H&M Established in 1947 in Sweden, H&M’s business concept is to offer “fashion and quality at the best price” for men, women, teenagers and children. H&M outsources its production from 700 suppliers of clothes. The location of its stores, flexibility of its production and low prices can be identified as the key factors behind H&M’s success. H&M hires celebrity designers like Karl Lagerfeld and Stella McCartney to democratise fashion and catch consumer’s attention. The firm churns out 500 new designs every year that can be purchased from its 1,193 retail outlets located across 22 countries and also via mail order or through its website for the Nordic countries.

Figure II International presence of H&M
1947 1964 Sweden Norway Denmark UK Switzerland Germany Netherlands Belgium Austria Luxembourg Finland France USA Spain Poland Czech Rep. Portugal Italy Canada Slovenia Ireland Hungary Number of countries 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 14 18 20 22 1967 1976 1978 1980 1989 1992 1994 1996 1997 1998 2000 2003 2004 2005 No. of stores Nov 2005 124 78 56 102 52 288 73 48 52 7 27 71 91 50 27 12 7 10 11 2 4 1 1,193

Source: Compiled from H&M, 2005 Annual Report, p.31.


The growth of H&M has been marked by the addition of cosmetics and accessories to the apparel line in 1975, the incorporation of new countries to its market portfolio and the development of the catalogue and e-commerce, available in the Nordic countries. Compared to Inditex and Gap, H&M is much more internationalised with over 90 percent of its turnover coming from overseas in 2005, Germany being its largest market with 27 percent of the company total revenue. Its expansion has been at a moderate pace particularly during the early stages. H&M has been able to consolidate its position in each of the international markets. Having operated in its domestic market for 17 years, H&M followed the same expansion pattern as Zara and Gap Inc by selecting international markets based first on physical and cultural distance to the domestic market and then on economic indicators such as purchasing power, employment rate and purchasing behaviour. Local information about competitors, demand and accessibility is also considered.

“A combination of market saturation and entrepreneurial ambition” led the company to embark on internationalisation, which had two distinctive phases in the early stages (Laulajainen, 1991): The first focused on Scandinavia, and the second aimed at the UK, Switzerland, Germany and other Germanic countries. H&M launched its international expansion first into neighbouring countries, Norway in 1964 and Denmark in 1967. Both of them together with Sweden are markets belonging to the zone of cultural similarities labelled as `Nordic Europe´ by Usunier and Sissman (cited in Usunier and Lee, 2005, page 234). The second phase was initiated in 1976 with the opening of a store in the UK and later on in Switzerland in 1978 and Germany in 1980. These three markets share cultural affinities and are grouped in the `Anglo-German´ cluster by Kasper and Bloemer (1995). The mix of cultures in


Switzerland (German, French and Italian cultures) made this market a reference point for its further expansion in those adjoining countries. During the end of the 1980s and the early 1990s other Germanic countries such as The Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Luxembourg were entered. The experience gained over the early stages drove H&M to embark on a third phase of international expansion. This period has been marked by the quick expansion into distant and different markets like the USA, Canada, Southern (France, Spain, Portugal, Italy) and Eastern Europe (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Hungary) at the beginning of the 21st century, adding at least two more countries per year.

H&M’s expansion has been mainly through its own subsidiaries. Its plan of opening stores in Dubai and Kuwait in the near future has led H&M to sign a franchise agreement, which still keeps the management control within the Swedish company to ensure the H&M concept across countries. The store location is a key factor in H&M’s business model regardless of the market, establishing new outlets only in the best shopping areas. The interior design is prototyped allowing some customised solutions. In 1997 the former Managing Director of H&M, Stefan Persson, stated in his Annual Report that “When we expand, it is important to listen carefully to the local market. We need to adapt but not at the expense of losing what makes us who we are”. Hence, H&M’s strategy resembles that of Zara: replication of the same concept with some local adaptations.

Gap Inc Created in San Francisco in 1969, Gap Inc is the world’s largest specialist clothing retailer with 3,053 stores in 5 countries: United States, Canada, the United Kingdom,


France and Japan. This holding company sells clothing, accessories and personal care products for men, women and children. Like Inditex, Gap Inc operates several clothing brands: `Gap´, `Banana Republic´, `Old Navy´ and ´`Forth & Towne´. Gap Inc outsources all its production from 1,100 suppliers located in the United States and abroad. Gap Inc’s market growth was based on four strategies: International expansion, diversification into accessories and personal care articles, creation of new brands and development of other channel of sales like electronic commerce, launched in 1997 to increase its market share and reach a broader consumer base in the US. Gap Inc’s internationalisation process has been steady and focused on a few countries. After operating in the home market for almost twenty years, Gap Inc opened its first store in the UK and Canada in 1987 and 1989 respectively; they are both close markets given their cultural proximity. During the second phase of its internationalisation Gap Inc expanded into France, 1993 and Japan, 1995 despite their geographical and cultural distance. The experience acquired earlier and the attractiveness of these two markets were the main driving forces. After operating in the German market for ten years, the unsatisfactory results in sales led Gap Inc to withdraw from that market in August 2004 (Wells and Raabe, 2005). Gap’s future expansion markets have been identified in Asia and the Middle East. International sales accounted for 15 percent of the firm’s total turnover in 2005. Own subsidiaries have always been the mode of entry adopted to operate in the host markets. However, its willingness to establish itself in five markets in the Middle East (United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman) and in Singapore and Malaysia in the near future, has led Gap Inc to consider franchising as the strategy to expand into these smaller, culturally distant and high business risk countries.


Comparisons between Zara and its competitors Table IV presents detailed comparisons between Zara and its two competitors. The main distinctions are as follows: • While Zara controls its entire production chain, Gap Inc and H&M outsource all their production. Zara’s vertical integration enables the firm to have a faster turnaround than its competitors. • Product and geographic diversification has been used by the three clothing brands as their main directions for growth. Gap Inc and H&M have also developed new channels of sale. The development of electronic commerce sets Gap Inc and H&M apart from Zara which does not offer its products online. • Gap Inc has focused mainly on the home market, international sales accounting for merely 15 percent of its turnover in 2005. H&M’s expansion strategy is characterised by developing and reinforcing its business system in each country entered. Zara has a wider international presence in comparison to both Gap and H&M, having become a global company in a shorter period of time.


Table IV Inditex-Zara and competitor data, 2005
INDITEX-ZARA € 6,741 million (Inditex) 57% Inditex; 69% Zara GAP INC € 12,700 million 15% H&M € 6,562 million 91% 1,193 stores in 22 countries Consolidated expansion and at a moderate pace Partial vertical integration. Control over design, distribution and sales. Production is outsourced Outsourced from 700 suppliers On-line shopping facility and through mail order in the Nordic countries 4% of its turnover on advertising. The store is its main information tool Clothing, accessories and cosmetics

Net sales* International sales* Global reach* Internationalisation Business model

Inditex: 2,692 stores in 62 countries; Zara: 852 3,053 stores in 5 countries stores in 59 countries Extensive and quick international expansion Slow and focused internationalisation strategy Partial vertical integration. Control over design, distribution and sales. Production is High degree of vertical integration outsourced Own production facilities. Control over production chain No on-line shopping facility Outsourced from 1,100 suppliers On-line shopping facility for U.S. customers

Production Electronic commerce Promotion Business areas

Lack of advertising, only 0.3% of its turnover. 3%-3.5% of its turnover on advertising The store is its main promotional tool Clothing, accessories and personal care

Clothing, accessories and cosmetics Zara, Kiddy´s Class, Pull&Bear, Massimo Brand portfolio of the Dutti, Stradivarius, Bershka, Oysho, Zara parent company Home Branding strategy of Brand development and brand acquisition the parent company
Source: Compiled from annual reports; Alonso (2000); Ghemawat and Nueno (2003).

Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy and Forth & Single format Towne Brand development and brand acquisition N.A.

* Data refer to 2005. The Inditex fiscal year is from 1st February to 31st January of the following year; The Gap Inc financial year is a 52 or 53 week period ending on the Saturday closest to January 31; The H&M financial year is from 1st December to 30th November of the following year.


The international expansion of Gap and H&M has been largely organic. In contrast, Zara has used franchising and joint ventures as entry strategies. The expansion pattern of all three brands is marked by the physical and cultural proximity of the international markets.

Advertising is a strong communication tool for both Gap Inc and H&M, while Zara hardly advertises. All three make some adjustments to their product offerings to satisfy the needs of local consumers. The location of the store is a key principle of the H&M and Zara business models.

CONCLUSIONS Zara is a successful international retailer which, in less than 30 years, has transformed itself from a Spanish local brand into a truly global brand. This paper seeks to improve our understanding of the firm. The research has examined the internationalisation process of the firm with a special focus on motives, entry options and international marketing strategies. The main drawback that arises in a single case study is that of limited validity and representativeness which constrains the potential for making generalisations (Creswell, 1998). Another limitation is that the study was based solely on secondary data. However, this case is deemed adequate to provide good insight, and establish the avenue for future studies.

Although the paper has made some preliminary comparisons between Zara and its two main competitors, a more thorough comparative study of all the three firms would reveal what is being internationalised: Management expertise and systems? Innovative technique or strong retail brands (Brown and Burt, 1992)? Two areas are of particular


interests in the further study, namely the linkage between entry strategies and the degree of standardisation; the relationship between retail brand image and positioning in different markets.

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...党的群众路线教育实践活动个人对照检查材料 邹光明 党的群众路线教育实践活动开展以来,本人通过学习教育,深刻认识到开展为民务实清廉,以整风精神,反对形式主义、官僚主义、享乐主义、奢靡之风,落实党的“八项规定”是增强党员队伍的纯洁性和先进性的重要举措.按照镇党委统一部署,查摆问题,相互谈心,对照职工群众反映的各种问题,结合工作实际开展批评与自我批评。以“正衣冠、照镜子、洗洗澡、治治病”为总要求。通过这次活动从中感觉到自身在遵守党的政治纪律、加强党风建设以及“四风”方面还存在很多不足,有许多地方有待进一步提高。针对自己实际情况,认真反思,努力整改,现将情况分析对照检查如下。 一、遵守党的政治纪律和加强作风建设情况 (一)遵守党的政治纪律情况 做为一名党员干部和乡镇工作者,深知党的政治纪律是党的生命线。因此本人在以党员标准严格要求自己的同时,坚持党的领导,坚持党的基本理论、基本路线、基本纲领、在思想上政治上行动上乡党委保持高度一致。努力做到自觉遵守、严格执行,坚决维护党的政治纪律。在工作中,能够较好地执行党的方针、路线、政策,自觉执行民主集中制原则和维护班子团结。自觉用党章规范自己的一言一行,做到政治信仰不变、政治立场不移、政治方向不偏。 在工作中自觉以身作则,严格要求自己。严格遵守党的政治纪律,自觉同党中央和各级党委保持高度一致,坚决贯彻落实党的路线、方针、政策;能够自觉按制度和规定贯彻落实各项,做到令行禁止、政令畅通,给自己身边的人当好模范,真正发挥党员的模范和带头作用。 作为一名党员,对照纪律要求,存在一些不足:一是对放松自身的学习和修养,对自己学习要求不严,学习不认真;二是学习流于形式,在党的大政方针的学习上存在着不够深入,不够及时和不够具体等现象;二是在工作中存在着在对党的路线、方针政策,宣传贯彻不到位。 (二)加强作风建设情况 认真贯彻中央八项规定、转变作风,加强作风建设。一是全面认真学习了中央八项规定,深刻领会中央八项规定精神和各级领导讲话精神;二是通过观看警示教育片等,自觉自醒自律,遵守党风廉政建设规定和各项工作制度;三是紧密联系群众,联系实际,深入基层调查研究,系统掌握基层基本情况,真正了解群众所盼所想;四是严格落实公务接待制度和公务用车制度。 二、“四风”方面存在的突出问题 通过学习,本人在思想认识上虽有一定提高,在思想境界上有所提升,但对照党的群众路线教育实践活动的要求,特别是“四风”方面还有许多突出问题。 (一)形式主义 1、工作作风不扎实。开展党的群众路线教育实践活动要求乡干部每次都要亲自下基层走访,认为自己一直在乡下工作,群众工作做得很多了,自认为很了解群众的疾苦,放松了在思想上贴近群众,感情上亲近群众,行动上靠近群众。 2、群众工作不够扎实。下基层了解情况的少,不能从繁杂事务中解脱出来,不能深入到群众中调查研究,不了解群众困难,群众盼什么,有什么要求不知道,没有解决好密切联系群众的认识问题,对群众面临的实际问题不够了解,对一些问题没有及时发现和真正解决,没有深入基层进行扎实有效的工作。 3、平时不注重政治思想学习,集体组织的各项学习活动虽能按时参加,但平时学习的自觉性、主动性不强。学习内容不系统不全面,联系实际也不够紧密。。 ......

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