In spring, accessories label MCM opened its biggest European flagship store in Frankfurt. Future plans of the brand include to open more locations in Europe and the US. SI talked with CEO Paolo Fontanelli about the promising US market, new brand extensions and the difference in consumers’ shopping behaviors.

Where do you plan to open new stores in 2015?
We’re continuing to build our presence in Europe through targeted expansion in destination cities for luxury shopping, serving both the domestic and travelling luxury consumer. We look forward to opening our London flagship by early 2016 and our first store in Milan by middle of 2016.
We see a significant opportunity for MCM in the US – we’ve recently opened our first flagship in SoHo, New York and a large store in Houston, Texas. By the end of 2015, we’ll have opened stores in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Atlanta, building our total store presence to 6 across the US as well as a growing presence across luxury department stores including Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales and Nordstroms.

What are the most challenging and strongest performing markets right now? Which ones are the main revenue drivers?
While not immune to the slowing luxury growth widely reported, we continue to see strong performance across Korea and China. Although we’ve only just started to focus on the US, we’re excited to see a robust performance and look forward to realizing future opportunities in this incredibly valuable luxury market. Our challenge in Europe is to gain greater awareness and understanding of the MCM brand today.
In terms of product, bags and travel accessories remain our largest revenue drivers with our iconic MCM backpack continuing to outperform. The backpack truly epitomizes this new lifestyle of youthful luxury – blending luxury craftsmanship with practicality in designs that resonate with the new generation of luxury consumers. We see this resonating across many audiences; but, particularly with our Chinese and Korean consumers where we see a strong desire for genderless and practical luxury products.

MCM recently launched an online shop in the US. Why do you start with Ecommerce? What are your expectations and how is it going? How do you handle challenges of the online-business? Will you also start E-Business in Europe and Asia?
While it’s still early days, we’re thrilled with the engagement and performance of the US site since launch and we’ll continue to invest in our digital marketing to ensure we’re connecting with our customers to offer the best experience of MCM. We’ve had an online presence in Korea for a few years which continues to perform very well. We’ll be live across Europe by the first half of 2016 followed by the rest of Asia.

What are the main differences between the development of the women segment in comparison with the men’s one?
Men’s accessories continues to experience strong growth year on year with women’s performing well, albeit from a higher base. A clear market trend is towards genderless products–this is a category we’ve been heavily focused on given its traction across Asia so we’re well positioned to meet this growing desire across other key markets.

Which are the MCM key product categories right now?
Handbags continue to be one of our key product categories. In addition to our iconic backpack, we’ve had an incredibly positive response to some of our new styles of handbags such as the Milla tote. The simplicity and practicality of the design combined with the highest quality leather in impactful colours has really resonated with our consumers globally.
We’re also seeing great growth across our small leather goods. The diversity of the product mix -whether its digital travel, pouches or wallets–combined with unique designs, connects with our consumers who desire products that are far from ordinary.

On February this year a licensing agreement with Marchon Eyewear was announced in order to bring to life the first MCM eyewear collection. Are there further plans to extend the brand’s product portfolio?
We are excited to partner with Marchon for our first sunglass and eyewear collection, launching in Asia fromSeptember2015 with a global roll-out from January 2016. Aligned with our vision to become a dynamic global luxury brand, we continue to review other licensing opportunities to strengthen the brand and enhance the customer’s experience of MCM on an ongoing basis.

What are in your opinion the main differences between European and Asian consumers in terms of shopping behavior?
MCM’s heritage is rooted in German luxury and craftsmanship but since Chief Visionary Officer Mrs Sung-Joo Kim acquired the brand in 2005, she transformed the brand into its youthful luxury positioning and focused firmly on the Asian consumer. In contrast with the more traditional luxury peers, MCM’s unique positioning blending craftsmanship, design and modern practicality, strongly connected with the Korean and Chinese consumer.
Generally speaking, the Asian luxury consumer is a young professional, more fashion and trend driven with a desire for unique products. The European consumer trends towards a more conservative luxury aesthetic.
We’re now leveraging our experience from some of the most challenging luxury markets to focus on growing our presence across Europe and the US to build a global foundation for MCM’s long-term success and profitability.

What are the current business challenges in the EMEA region? How is the situation in the US?
With the exception of Germany given MCM’s heritage, we are focused on executing our EMEA strategy to increase brand awareness through dynamic digital, retail and marketing presence across the region. Over the next year, we’ll be celebrating some important MCM milestones and have an ambitious strategy for growth. Our teams are excited to realize the opportunities ahead of us.
We see great potential in the US and aligned with our strategy, we are actively investing in growing our retail presence – through both directly owned stores and luxury department.