Feb 15 2023
We interviewed Darío Acuña, Sales Director at Kiabi Spain, with over 12 years working for the French fashion brand, including 7 as a member of the Steering Committee.
Kiabi was born 40 years ago in the north of France, under the premise “fashion at small prices, for the whole family”. It is now an international brand, with 540 stores in the 23 countries where it is located.
In 1993, it opened its first international store in Spain. It now has more than 50 stores, including company-owned and franchises, in the country, and the growth continues. In fact, it has just opened the first Kiabi Kids store in Malaga, a concept store designed especially for families.
Read about the brand’s international strategy to maintain its position in fashion retail and how it has chosen Orquest to optimize the scheduling of its in-store teams and enhance the experience of both its customers and its employees, whom it calls collaborators.
Darío, Kiabi has always maintained its “fashion at small prices” and “for the whole family”. What is the role that Kiabi plays in the sector? What role do you want to play in the future? What makes you different?
In Spain, we have been accompanying families for 30 years with the aim of making their daily lives easier. For us, it is essential that families can fill their closet with responsible products that are accessible and with a collection designed for everyone.
Kiabi was born 40 years ago in France and, in 1993, opened its first international store in Spain. Now you have 58 stores in the country, being your second largest network, only behind France, what is its importance?
That’s right, Spain represents a clear objective for the company because of its international commitment. Kiabi is present with 560 points of sale in 23 countries, being Spain a reference to continue with this clear development of the brand in the international market where it proposes sustainable fashion for all. The success also comes from maintaining the DNA of the brand and the promise of low prices.
What has been your strategy up to now? What will the future growth be like?
We want the needs of our customers to be covered, with innovative collections that connect with families, betting on new sales models to continue with a clear objective of proximity, being our commitment to omnichannel a clear example.
You are an international brand, with more than 500 stores in different countries, not only France or Spain, but also in Italy, Morocco, Saudi Arabia or several markets in Africa… How is it to work with such different markets? Are customers today global or local?
It is really exciting and challenging, as we develop collections that are adapted to the needs of the local customer, with responsible and sustainable fashion, which at the same time is for all families and inclusive and, of course, at small prices.
In recent years the sector has changed and will continue to change. For example, online sales have been a radical transformation. How has this transformation been for you?
I have been working in Kiabi for 12 years and change is part of our daily life, and like every change, it is a new opportunity. In our case, we have been committed to omnichannel for many years and this is noticeable since the digital part is largely at the service of the physical and in this way allows us to connect more and better with families, allowing us to further elevate our relationship with customers.
Is this, among other things, making store operations more and more complex? What do you see as their role in 2022? What challenges are your stores facing?
I would really tell you that this digital growth has been an advantage. What is really important is that whatever way customers come into contact with the brand, they feel it close and that is why our physical stores and our teams are geared towards that, where our cross-channel service culture is key to achieving that and our promise “Always more for your family”, prevails.
And that of the teams? Because one of Kiabi’s commitments is to be a “great place to work” and to act at all times for the good of each employee.
The journey of each employee in Kiabi is fundamental, and this is one of our cornerstones, because the best way to make families live a great experience with us is for our teams to live it in first person. This also goes hand in hand with overcoming challenges, adapting and evolving with new paradigms and, above all, enjoying doing what we love the most, which is being with our customers.
Increasingly complex operations, employee well-being being capital… Is it possible to maintain the profitability of the stores?
It’s the only way we see to do it. If you think about the sustainability of a brand in the long term, it is key to take care of the teams and that all their experience, journey and development be the protagonist, as it is at Kiabi. And this goes hand in hand with being able to take on new challenges, to adapt, that the focus continues to be on the omnichannel customer and that it is the reflection of our roadmap.
Speaking of technology, for some months now we have had a joint project to create an AI-based scheduling for your stores. How does Orquest help you?
I would say that the most important effect is to improve the experience of both our customers and our teams. First, because Orquest helps us to foresee in a more efficient way when our customers will come to our stores and therefore when we should be more present to help them so that their experience with Kiabi improves. And also our teams, with their clear service vocation, can enjoy their relationship with them more because they will be better prepared to help them.
Recent times have undoubtedly left us many learnings with a clear direction, customer satisfaction, because above all our promise prevails: “Always more for your family” and this is what moves us to adapt and implement any initiative that is necessary.
And finally, Darío, what do you love most about retail? And about Kiabi?
Retail is my life, it has been present in my life for almost 20 years and since then it never ceases to surprise and excite me, and without a doubt, what I am most passionate about are the people, their ability to always go beyond, to inspire, to rethink the future and their vocation to help. And in Kiabi all this is elevated in an exceptional way, and it is so because it is part of our DNA and therefore our way of being.