Fusalp has fashion to thank for getting back on track in 2021-2022
After encountering many bumps in the black slopes during its 2020-21 fiscal year, it is with style, and despite the pitfalls that the French brand crosses over to the red slopes in 2021-22. Excuse the skiing metaphors used in light of this period of Winter Olympics. The Covid-19 pandemic, numerous confinements, and store and ski resort closures have heavily penalized the activity of the French brand, which specializes in luxury skiwear and was taken over in 2014 by Sophie and Philippe Lacoste and Alexandre Fauvet.
"We were not able to avoid a decline in our 2020-21 year,” explained the brand's CEO. “Our sales decreased by 12%. The situation was particularly complicated due to the closure of stores and ski resorts. But the fact that we have a strong international presence allowed us to spread the risk. These periods of crisis are also often a blessing in disguise: we were able to accelerate the transformation of the brand by repositioning it into the luxury ready-to-wear market. We have held on to this proposition, bringing sophistication to Fusalp beyond the slopes. When you can't sell ski products anymore, it's a great shock absorber. And we ended the year with 22 million euros in sales, which is a solid performance considering the context.”
During this period, the brand focused its efforts on direct sales, working on the product offering of its 48 retail stores worldwide, while accelerating its proposals and its digital visibility. It also streamlined its network of retailers, reducing its number from 400 to 300, so that they better align with its new positioning.
In terms of its products, the brand launched a new Heritage collection, consisting of pieces that can be worn in day-to-day environments. Additionally, it collaborated with the renowned luxury fashion house Chloé, who’s strong image could help increase Fusalp’s brand awareness. Internally, the brand's management also opted to strengthen its teams.
"In November 2020, we had to make decisions for the winter of 2021 without even knowing how the winter of 2020 would unfold," said Fauvet. “We decided to anticipate a rebound in activity. We have invested a lot of money and it should be noted that the support of the State has allowed us to operate and invest during these complicated times. We have recruited technical, commercial and product profiles to strengthen our ready-to-wear production. We also hired a materials and innovation manager and opened a lab in Annecy for the digital department."
These decisions seem to be paying off. Even if all its problems have not been solved, particularly in terms of material supply or delivery dates for certain parts that may arrive several months late, Fusalp is reporting a radical jump in activity for its 2021-22 fiscal year. It should close at the end of May with a turnover of around 40 million euros and a return to profitability.
A brand just as comfortable in the slopes as it is in Marseille and Biarritz
"Digital sales have shown a 60% growth. Our direct sales now represent 80% of our business and our e-commerce sales weigh 12% of sales. If online sales from our retailers such as Net-a-porter and MatchesFashion are added, it would account for 15% of total sales," says the leader. “We had a great month of December during which the turnover doubled and in January the turnover tripled, with only 10% of our sales having been on sale. It was even frustrating because we ran out of stock on certain colors of our best seller pieces. Our brand identity and asset is that we have always wanted to make beautiful products for skiing that could also be worn in other settings, whether it be our jackets or our spindles. The fusion of style and functionality is our strength, and this season, we have six of our top ten best sellers in the form of ready-to-wear products."
This asset validates its differentiation strategy of establishing itself on or off the slopes. This is already a reality in France, where the brand is present in 12 mountain resorts and has 18 boutiques located in Paris, Marseille, Toulon and Biarritz, with surface areas that could soon be expanded from 75 to nearly 200 square meters. This is also implemented internationally (50% of its sales) where the brand made its debut in the Asian market during the Winter Olympics in Korea (the brand retails in Hyundai department stores) and currently during the Olympics in Beijing.
It now has seven international subsidiaries around the world and is aiming to expand into the United States, setting up its own teams in the country and while they’re at it, opening its first stores in the country’s ski resorts and major cities.
With these developments and its appetite for fashion, could the brand soon find itself on the catwalks of Fashion Weeks? "It's not the right time yet," said Fauvet, who does say that the brand will be launching some exciting collaborations this year as it celebrates its 70th anniversary.
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