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In today's New York Times, two business professors who study the global success of ZARA explain why Spanish-based, globally located retailing behemoth is hesitant to expand further in the US. José Luis Nueno, a professor of marketing at I.E.S.E. Business School in Madrid explains:
"The United States is a graveyard of European retailers. Everyone who has gone there has struggled. Laura Ashley has shut down and even Benetton is declining. The U.S. is really complex because it's about putting stores in shopping malls in the middle of nowhere. Fashionistas live on the East and West coasts. Then everyone else dresses in the Gap and Walmart and T. J. Maxx. If you really wanted to cover the U.S., you would have to open 300 stores, and they would have to focus all their energy to make it work."
Nelson Fraiman, a professor at Columbia Business School, adds that America's sizing issue puts a strain on Zara's very tight production process (for the uninitiated, the process involves delivery of new styles every two weeks, limited amount of product sent, and trendy, trendy, trendy):
"Would you expand in the United States? Zara to me is a European store for European style; it's very fashion forward. And what is the problem in America? They don't fit in the clothes. So why do it? Having to make larger sizes makes production so much more complex."· How Zara Grew Into the World's Largest Fashion Retailer [NYTimes]
· Are Zara's Sizes Too Small for Americans? [Racked]
· How Zara Keeps You Cool Vs. How Uniqlo Keeps You Steady [Racked]