The retail entrepreneur who conquered the UK high street with the Danish brand Tiger is looking to repeat the success with the launch of a new children’s clothing and toy chain.
Philip Bier will open the first ÏD Kids store in London next month after finalising a franchise deal with the eponymous French company. With a turnover of €860m (£750m), the retail giant owns eight brands including kidswear label Okaïdi and Oxybul, a range of educational toys, and has a global network of 1,200 shops.
Bier, who opened the first Tiger store in Basingstoke in 2005, became a multi-millionaire after selling his stake in the successful chain last year. The ambitious Dane has now set up Bier Brothers with his brother Jacob, a top mergers and acquisitions lawyer, to bring new retail brands to our high streets.
“We want to be the preferred partner for foreign retailers who want to enter the UK,” said Bier. “The ambition is to have six brands in five years’ time.”
Bier is pressing ahead with the new business despite a punishing retail climate that has seen the share price of struggling Mothercare plummet and Toys R Us collapse into administration.
“If people say I’m mad I have some sympathy for that statement,” says Bier. “But if you take Toys R Us they stood still and relied on doing the same thing for 25 years with no material change in their model. They just expected customers to turn up with a basket and fill it. That doesn’t happen anymore.”
The first ÏD Kids store, selling both Okaïdi and Oxybul, is located in the Southside Shopping Centre in Wandsworth, an affluent south-west London suburb popular with young families. Okaïdi clothing is more expensive than that sold by Zara, where jeans and T-shirts start at around £20 and £6, but cheaper than designer stores.
“The demographic is right in Wandsworth and there is an incredible concentration of buggies,” says Bier. “The French children’s apparel market is incredibly competitive because they don’t wear a school uniform. The intention is to make it a national chain of probably 50 shops.”
The backdrop to the launch of ÏD Kids is a challenging one as the toy market shrank by 3% to £3.4bn in 2017. But despite the travails of Toys R Us, its rival The Entertainer recently reported a 37% increase in annual profits to £11.5m for 2017. The outlook for the children’s clothing market is more buoyant as it is forecast to grow by 8.1% between 2017 and 2022, according to retail analysts at GlobalData.
Bier says one of the strengths of ÏD Kids is that like Tiger it primarily sells own-label products so is a destination for shoppers. “If you want an ÏD product you have to go to ÏD. That’s one of the reasons Tiger worked so well. If you want Tiger products you have to go to Tiger.”