The British Invade Nordstrom

Jul 13, 2012

Topshop is coming! Topshop is coming!

Yesterday, Nordstrom announced that it would participate in the latest British invasion with the introduction of Topshop and Topman shops in 14 of its stores across the U.S.

Fashion industry watchers see the move as Nordstrom’s attempt to get a little edgier with clothing options. Topshop is Britain’s fast-fashion answer to Zara, H&M, etc. and its designs come, as The New York Times put it, "with rock ‘n’ roll flair."

"Topshop and Topman are internationally renowned leaders in fashion and we are thrilled to start a relationship with them that we hope will grow and prosper over the years," said Pete Nordstrom, president of merchandising for Nordstrom, in a statement. "We think our customers are going to love their take on trend-led fashion at great prices."

"With new pieces being delivered from our design team on pretty much a weekly basis, the ability to buy fresh, must-have looks every time a customer visits is key to our brands’ point of difference," said Sir Philip Green, whose Arcadia Group Ltd. owns Topshop.

There are clear pluses in the deal for both Nordstrom and Topshop. Nordstrom gets a forward-fashion line that appeals to a younger consumer. It also gets to see fast-fashion up close and personal.

"That speed is appealing," Mr. Nordstrom told the Times.

For its part, Topshop and Topman get introduced to a whole group of consumers that may not typically visit its stores. Topshop has 319 stores in the U.K. along with 137 franchises operating in 37 countries. It currently has company-owned and operated flagships in New York, Chicago and Las Vegas, with another planned for Los Angeles next spring. The company also operates and in the U.S.

Topshop and Topman departments at Nordstrom will be U.K.-authentic, with mannequins, visual merchandising and fixturing supplied from Britain. Departments will include limited-edition pieces designed specifically for Nordstrom. The department store’s website will include additional choices not found in stores.

Neither party would provide details on where the partnership between the two companies might go from here but Mr. Nordstrom told Bloomberg News, "We think it can be pretty big. The intent is, ‘Let’s do something special, let’s do something that works on a sizable scale.’"

Nordstrom full-line store locations that will feature the Topshop and Topman include:

Ala Moana (Honolulu, HI)
Oakbrook Center (Oakbrook, IL)
Barton Creek Square (Austin, TX)
Phipps Plaza (Atlanta, GA)
Burlington (Burlington, MA)
The Plaza at King of Prussia (King of Prussia, PA)
Chandler Fashion Center (Chandler, AZ)
San Francisco Centre (San Francisco, CA)*
Dadeland Mall (Miami, FL)
South Coast Plaza (Costa Mesa, CA)*
Garden State Plaza (Paramus, NJ)
Southcenter (Tukwila, WA)
Irvine Spectrum Center (Irvine, CA)
Valley Fair (San Jose, CA)

* Store will have Topshop only.

Discussion Questions: What do you think of the Nordstrom and Topshop deal? What are typically the keys to success in partnerships such as this? Where do you see the partnership going from here?

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15 Comments on "The British Invade Nordstrom"

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Dick Seesel
9 years 6 months ago

Nordstrom, like many US retailers, is trying to find ways to emulate the best of the “fast fashion” retailers. Adding Topshop is certainly a shortcut in that direction. It’s easy to foresee the success of this test and its eventual rollout throughout the U.S.

Nordstrom has proven before (with Faconnable) that it can execute a branded shop concept and make it a win for both parties. I expect the same sort of success from the Topshop collaboration.

Paula Rosenblum
9 years 6 months ago

Just as I liked the Neimans/Target deal, I like this one. It will definitely help freshen up the Nordstrom doors.

I think these types of deal are a way to “make way for the Millennials.” There are a lot of them, they’re coming into their high earning years, and the fashion industry is learning to love them.

Fast fashion is its own interesting phenomenon. Very 21st century. Not particularly high end product, just meant to be used and replaced with frequency. That promises faster turn. The challenge for retailers, as always, is how to shorten time to volume. Our current average of a year from conception to consumption is just too long. I’m curious to see if Nordstrom can make this applicable to higher-end/higher-quality product.

Marge Laney
9 years 6 months ago

This is brilliant! Topshop is a great fast fashion retailer with higher quality and higher price points than their competitors. They only have a couple of stores in the US and this is a great way for them to build brand awareness rapidly. The Nordstrom shopper is their target and they hit a bulls eye with this one.

It’s good for Nordstrom too, because it gives them an edgy offering that will attract the young affluent shopper.

This is a marriage made in heaven.

Ryan Mathews
9 years 6 months ago

Well I don’t usually think of the Nordstrom customer as being fashion-forward, but we’ll see. Ditto with the Topshop customer — how many of them would naturally go to a Nordstrom?

That said, the deal makes sense from Topshop’s perspective because it increases sales, distribution and brand awareness. From the Nordstrom side I suspect the experience with fast fashion will be more useful in the long run than the foray into fashion-forward.

The key to any partnership is the ability of each partner to hold up their end and the willingness of the customer to accept the blended offering.

As to where it will go, I have limited expectations but time will tell.

Doug Fleener
9 years 6 months ago

Definitely a win/win for both Nordstrom and Topshop.

I think one of the keys to a successful partnership is that the department store gives the partner enough space and leeway to present their brands and products without compromise.

On the other side, it’s vital that the brand, especially one without a lot of infrastructure in the states, keep the retailer in stock.

Lee Kent
9 years 6 months ago

Nice to see smart retailers who ‘get’ that the millennials are coming!

Camille P. Schuster, Ph.D.
9 years 6 months ago

This deal appears to be exposing new customers to Topshop and to Nordstrom. If Topshop customers pay attention to the news that Topshop is at Nordstrom and consider shopping there, AND if Nordstrom customers are interested enough in Topshop products to consider them, then the cross-exposure is an interesting approach to try. Depending upon how well the shopping experience works out, this could be a great way to extend consumers for both brands. At the very least, it is an interesting experiment.

Martin Mehalchin
Martin Mehalchin
9 years 6 months ago

At a firm I was with earlier in my career, we used to talk to clients about designing “strategic experiments.” Small, manageable pilots that can contribute to growth if they take off but won’t kill your business if they fail. With several of Nordstrom’s moves recently, Hautelook, Topshop etc., they seem to have mastered the art of designing and executing these experiments. Not all of the will be runaway successes but the collective whole will help keep Nordstrom relevant to the consumer.

Phil Rubin
9 years 6 months ago

Nordstrom continues to kill it with smart strategy and disciplined execution, built on the strength of the brand’s connections with its customers. Strengthening the brand’s foundation around fashion is nothing new for Nordstrom. It has been a consistent focus area for well over five years.

What’s really fascinating though, is the continuing contrast to Neiman Marcus, who has been struggling (not coincidentally) during those same years.

How revealing is it that Nordstrom announces this Topshop partnership the same week that Neiman Marcus announces its deal with Target?

One key to partnership success (like so many other success drivers) is having a clearly defined brand and a partner of a like mind. Again, such a contrast with what Neiman Marcus is doing as it struggles to (re-)define itself.

Carol Spieckerman
Carol Spieckerman
9 years 6 months ago

Like Target and Neiman Marcus before, another example of retailers being brands, not just having them and of retailer-as-curator. After all, Target has a history of forming alliances with individual designer brands, but chose instead to align with the NM brand (and the high-end curatorial cred that comes with it). Nice preemptive strike as Penney’s better boutiques begin to roll out in August. Nordstrom could easily create Topshop-like owned brand but chose instead to tap into Topshop’s reputation for the cheeky and fast. In the case of Nordstrom/Topshop, I’m hopeful that Nordstrom’s more tightly-curated Topshop presentation will show better than the sometimes over-assorted meh that prevails in their U.S. flagships.

Craig Sundstrom
9 years 6 months ago

The list of stores is small (and curious as well, omitting some of their largest stores in Seattle, Chicago, etc.). While an introductory phase isn’t unusual — and often makes sense — it’s hard to get too excited until it becomes more widely carried.

Stacey Silliman
Stacey Silliman
9 years 6 months ago

I beg to differ about customers of Nordstrom not being fashion forward. Nordstrom sells the same designer products as Saks, Bloomingdale’s, Barneys, and Neiman Marcus as well as Intermix and other smaller high-end fashion retailers. They sell these brands online and in-store. The Topshop strategy is a good move on their part, especially considering which Nordstrom stores will feature a Topshop/Topman department(s). I, myself, am looking forward to seeing it in person at King of Prussia.

Christopher P. Ramey
9 years 6 months ago

Innovative merchandising strategies are not new to Nordstrom. They’ve been on the front side of this movement for some time selling Brooks Brothers, Thomas Pink and Faconnable, etc.

The recalibrated consumer allows a merchandising elasticity that none of us would have imagined/condoned five years ago. The upside with Topshop is that it has little awareness in the U.S., so Nordstrom may craft it however they so desire.

The biggest surprise is the lack of commitment. It’s a test, not a marriage.

Verlin Youd
9 years 6 months ago

There is no question that Topshop has been looking for a way to drive entry into the US market and this would seem to be a great opportunity for them, doing it with a retailer with a strong brand and national presence.

The real question is how this will help Nordstrom to grow their brand and business. As the article states, this could be a way for Nordstrom to stay fresh and compete with new competition. It will be key to structure a partnership that allows success to work for both parties.

William Passodelis
9 years 5 months ago

WOW! I really like this and it should go well. There are a lot of younger people in Nordstrom who will appreciate the fast fashion and it should really result in an additive effect overall in terms of sales and traffic. AND they already have so much experience with Facconable that this should be smooth and efficient in execution.


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