Textile Discounter

KiK Goes U.S.

Patrick Zahn
KiK CEO Patrick Zahn is undeterred by Donald Trump's upcoming presidency. Source: Maja Hitij/DPA.

While most of the German fashion retail sector is going through a rough patch, discounter KiK is doing splendidly. The past year was an “extremely good year” for the discount clothes chain, chief executive Patrick Zahn said Tuesday in Düsseldorf. And the manager disclosed that the firm has ambitious plans: It is preparing to take on the U.S. market in 2019.

“We are convinced that KiK fits perfectly into the U.S.,” Mr. Zahn said, adding that there are few discount clothes companies there. KiK’s boss sees almost unlimited growth potential in the United States. He cites German supermarket discounter Aldi, which has been successful in the U.S., as a shining example.

Mr. Zahn, 40, took on the job just a year ago and has his conquest strategy mapped out already: 10 stores in the Midwest at first, then more outlets in the rest of the country if things work out. He is undeterred by Donald Trump’s upcoming presidency. “If you let your decision depend on who’s the president, then it was a wrong decision to begin with.”

KiK’s sales increased by 8 percent to €1.8 billion ($1.9 billion) in 2016. In the coming years the low-cost shop chain wants to increase the number of stores from 3,439 to 5,000. In 2017 alone it plans to open 188 new shops, 70 of them in Germany.

The company, whose name is a German acronym that translates into English as “Customer is King,” expects most of the growth to take place abroad, where it already generates 30 percent of its revenue.

To date, the group, founded in 1994 with 22,000 employees, is present in nine European countries, chiefly in Germany, Austria and in Eastern Europe. In recent years, the discounter has pursued an aggressive growth strategy and taken a foothold in a new market each year.

The next target is Italy: 10 KiK shops are due to open there by September, and another 35 will follow.

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