With more than 80% of its revenue coming from abroad, the Spanish apparel retailer Mango has found a winning formula for international success. The fashion brand has more than 2,400 stores across 110 countries, opening hundreds of stores last year across Russia, China, Pakistan and other areas.
Before Jose Gomez, Mango’s senior vice president of business development, takes the stage at Retail’s BIG Show to discuss what it takes to thrive in the global economy, we wanted to introduce him to you. Read on for a sneak peek at what makes Mango’s multinational company so successful.
Mango has a young and a mostly female employee base. Tell us a little bit about your unique company culture.
Around 70% of the company is female. We dress women, therefore our workforce has a large component of female talent. It’s important to get direct feedback from your customers, and it’s even better if you can let customers’ decisions impact the way we do business. Our female employees do just that. Our work environment is very casual. No suits or ties, but lots of fashion creativity, and expressing yourself through the way you dress. At Mango headquarters, we have 2,000 employees from 37 nationalities. We communicate in several languages, and just on my team, I have people from the UK, Brazil, France, Australia and China.
What’s made you so successful in your expansion so far?
We have a flexible model. We can have a store at San Francisco International Airport the size of 1000 sq. ft. and also a store in Paris, London or Barcelona of 15,000 sq. ft. We also adjust our product to the needs of the markets we sell, but without losing the Mango identity.
In the U.S., you’ve partnered with J.C. Penney to sell the MNG by Mango line, providing a shop-within-a-shop experience. Why that was the right move for the U.S. market?
J.C. Penney provides us with the opportunity to be in cities we would never be in otherwise. They are going through an exciting time of re-merchandising their stores and providing a better and more interesting shopping experience. Our MNG brand fits well with their customers and the Mango line fits best in standalone shops in major cities.
A lot of retailers have their eyes on China. From your experience, what have you learned about how to tailor your business strategy for the Chinese market?
The number one lesson I’ve learned is that you cannot look at China as one country; you have to look at it as if it is many countries. You have to tailor your road map, identify the opportunities and match them with your priorities and resources, then decide the business model that is appropriate for you—franchise, joint venture, corporate, etc. China is a huge market, but it is hard to navigate. From region to region, you’ll find great challenges to overcome from taste in clothing, to income, to logistics and so on.
What’s next for Mango?
We are in 110 countries today, and we’ll continue our expansion in international markets. There won’t be very many new markets, but our focus is on opening more stores to build a denser network in areas we’re already present. We’ll focus on Asia, South America, Russia and, of course Europe. Despite the economic situation, Europe is still our home, and we continue to grow here.
Also, our goal is to make our company more omnichannel. We try to bridge the shopping experience at the store to the one online because our customers shop in both places.
Tell us about your path to your current position.
I have over 20 years of experience in international markets. Before retail, I worked for a variety of textile companies, expanding their businesses to new markets, and my clients were retailers. I moved from New York (although I am originally from Barcelona) to Barcelona to take the position of expanding Mango in North America, after a few months on the job they offered me other parts of the world—the Middle East, Latin America, then Southeast Asia.
In all your travels around the world, what has been the most interesting or rewarding experience for you professionally?
The most rewarding experience is to see your business grow. Every store I have opened is like a son to me! It’s nice to travel around the world and see Mango stores in hundreds of cities in over 110 countries. At Mango we have a dream of having a store in every city in the world, and I am contributing my part to make that happen.
While in town for the BIG Show, what are you most looking forward to doing in New York City?
Since I am an ex-New Yorker (I lived in the city from 2000 to 2004 before I started with Mango), I am looking forward to catching up with friends and going to some of the great restaurants that the city has to offer, possibly catching a show..any suggestions?