Over the last ten years Finns have broadened their concept of fashion to include the brands and styles offered by international fashion chains. Spending on clothing nearly doubled from about 2.5 billion euros in 2000 to 4 billion by 2010, fueled by a proliferation of clothing outlets for convenient shopping.
But while Finns have had more retail outlets to choose from, they haven’t really had more options, as the same players have tended to dominate the fashion landscape over the years.
A slump in spending in other European cities however, is making Finland an interesting target for large international clothing chains. While the German New Yorker franchise has been the first to stake a claim in this far north market, negotiations for other providers are ongoing.
“Finland’s stable economy is an important factor, and also the fact that we have extremely strong purchasing power, is adding to interest to come here,” said Nora Immonen of Citycon, a leading retail property broker.
Most of the large international chains enter Nordic markets by way of Stockholm or Tallinn. However, the French women’s fashion brand Promod bucked the trend by setting up shop in Finland last autumn – before opening in any other Nordic capital.
“The customer feedback we’ve had is that it’s wonderful to have a choice and options. The truth is that for many years we've worn what the old players have provided. We see the same brands in each shopping centre, and also on our neighbours. Now we want more individuality and we want to stand out,” explained Susanna Järvenpää, Promod Brand Manager.
The only obstacles blocking the path of other international brands from reaching Finland is a lack of attractive locations and a shortage of franchising entrepreneurs.
In Järvenpää’s case, she and three former workmates contacted the Promod head office in France and declared their intention to bring the chain to Finland. Their contact was a welcome opening for the French chain, which had its eye on Finland for some time. And it was not the only one.
“We’ve had many contacts, almost on a weekly basis. But it seems that very few people in Finland dare to get into this field of business. It certainly requires a lot of courage, but it’s definitely worth it,” Järvenpää added.
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