The global pandemic may have shifted how our consumers shop, but our stores are designed to give them an experience they simply can’t replicate online.
That’s why we are finding ways to marry digital and physical spaces. Brick-and-mortar stores remain an integral part of our direct-to-consumer strategy and business across our global fleet — our ability to create personal connections and experiences for loyal fans ensures Levi Strauss & Co. remains at the center of culture as well as meets consumers where they are shopping, physically or digitally.
One of our key strengths as a business is that, like our products, our stores are not designed as a “one size fits all” model — depending on the market, we have owned-and-operated stores, franchise stores, concession and commissionaires, which allows us to diversify our approach and cater to the dynamics of the area. That said, many new locations are being designed as “NextGen” stores, digitally enabled stores meant to deliver the best expression of the Levi’s® brand with a store size that is sustainable and profitable in each market.
“The thread across the varying business models is our NextGen store format, which is pivotal to our future expansion strategy,” said Richard Hurren, vice president of global direct-to-consumer out of Europe. “They connect our digital world with our physical world in one space. They also keep our Tailor Shop at the heart of these locations to foster authentic self-expression.”
This year, we have a robust opening plan around the world. We’re focusing on mainline store openings in the U.S. that are a smaller footprint and fully enabled for omnichannel and Tailor Shop services in premium malls to create a youthful, head-to-toe expression of the brand while also ensuring we’re expanding for more with our loyal fan base. You will also find an array of NextGen stores popping up across the Asian market, one of our biggest growth opportunities.
Doors recently opened on a new NextGen store in the Grand Indonesia, considered one of the most successful malls in the region. We also recently opened our first Levi’s® store in Dubai, our first store opening in the Middle East, with plans to open future locations in Riyadh, Tel Aviv and Cairo.
And in an effort to build diversity, equity and inclusion in our hiring to reflect the communities we serve, we launched a pilot store at the Levi’s® Packages Mall in Lahore, Pakistan in May, which is fully staffed by women. We have also announced plans to staff our flagship store in India, Bangalore with employees identifying as LGBTQ+ and people with disability. These stores allow us to foster a sense of belonging in our workplaces by building empathy, courage, and creating psychological safety for our employees to be their authentic selves.
The Dubai store is already a hit with local Levi’s® fans. “Consumers are amazed at the Dubai store, and the NextGen concept, including the Tailor Shop and Print Bar, are a huge evolution for the brand here,” said Sandeep Sokhanda, commercial director, Middle East & North Africa.
China also continues to be a focus and leads the way for our expansion in 2021 as part of our rapid digital growth plan. Of those openings, the focus will be to open in more premium locations, ensuring a heightened consumer experience.
“More than ever, we remain focused on consumer behaviors, ensuring our store fleet is well placed to service communities of shoppers whilst remaining agile in the number of doors and locations,” Richard said. “Creating the seamless brand experience between online and offline will be critical, ensuring that our physical retail stores create a personalized connection, an environment for self-expression and experience through our Tailor Shops. We will continue to explore iterations of our physical retail while also testing and scaling ways to surprise and delight consumers.”