FitFlop unflappable about Thailand investment scheme
published : 16 Apr 2015 at 06:00
newspaper section: Business
writer: Pitsinee Jitpleecheep
The Primer Group of Companies, a Philippines lifestyle fashion company, believes sales of FitFlop shoes in Asia-Pacific this year will outpace last year's with Thailand driving growth.
Camille Karaan, deputy director and vice-president of Primer International Management Ltd, the operator of FitFlop shops in Asia-Pacific, said despite the Thai economy slowing it would maintain its investment in the Thai market, particularly for exclusive product designs.
"Thailand is still a strategic market for FitFlop. Not only are Thai women interested in fashion but the country is also popular with tourists," she said.
The company started producing exclusive shoe designs for Thailand three years ago, which received a warm response from Asean customers, particularly the Shasha collection. About 150,000 pairs of Shasha sandals were sold in Asia-Pacific last year, compared with a record high of 100,000 pairs for its regular collections.
Last week Ms Karaan visited Bangkok to celebrate the launch of FitFlop Blossom, an exclusive collection for 2015. After three to six months in Thailand, the collection will be available in other countries in the region.
FitFlop shoes are available in the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Myanmar. Next year, the Primer Group will expand its business to Laos and Cambodia.
It recently introduced the FitFlop superjelly collection.
"Superjelly is priced 20-30% lower than the classic collection. It's suitable for younger people," she said.
Pipop Tatiyamaneekul, managing director of Star Fashion (2551) Co, the distributor of FitFlop shoes in Thailand, said the purchasing power of Thai consumers was still weak.
"But we will continue to expand our business by opening at least 10 new FitFlop points of sale this year," he said.
Mr Pipop said sales of FitFlop in Thailand edged closer to numbers in the Philippines. With the superjelly collection, it could help the company widen its customer base upcountry thanks to its lower price.
The FitFlop classic is designed for the middle class, the FF 2 collection for the premium market and the superjelly line for younger people.
Primer Group now distributes about 100 brands of fashion apparel and bags in the Philippines. Eight new fashion brands are currently under consideration for its portfolio.