Stefan Otte, Franchise and Expansion Lead Europe, Levi Strauss & Co's

Stefan Otte has worked in different roles for Levi Strauss & Co since 1996. Former roles include general manager positions with the company in Benelux, the Nordics and France, as well as heading up retail across all southern European markets. He is now leading the franchise and expansion businesses in Europe.

stefan otte

Which markets interest Levi Strauss and what are its expansion plans? A long term expansion plan is a key to further improving our brand equity and brand presentation in all our European markets. Levi’s and Dockers stores play a very important role in this. We plan a full market review of the available white space to ensure that our brands are distributed in the ideal manner.

We are expanding the most in Germany and Italy. Our other major markets like France, UK, Spain, and Russia are constantly being fine-tuned and further improved with new opportunities.

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How do you select your future locations? We always review a market from a fully integrated distribution plan. We map all our current distribution across all our business models (wholesale and retail). We then identify the available white space in a market and determine the best distribution way to fulfill this white space.

Levi Strauss has more than 100 outlet stores in Europe, do you plan to invest more in outlet centres and if so why? As outlets are an integral part of our various business models they play a very important role in the overall distribution and visibility of our brands. We ensure that our brands are in the best outlet centres across Europe and distribution is balanced with our mainline distribution across every region in Europe. As our businesses continue to grow, so will our outlet businesses. This will always be done in a balanced way that is right for both our Levi’s and Dockers brands, and our consumers.

©Levi Strauss

What do you think are the main differences between the way retailers are selecting their locations now to 5 years ago? Location has only become more important over time with, for example, increasing internet usage and omni-channel initiatives. The success of outlet centres has influenced how brands and retailers have been selecting locations. The economic downturn in many countries has influenced location selection and making a considered decision on location is crucial to the future success of any retail store. Pop-up stores are also a great way to test new locations, new concepts or launch new products.

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