Shopping Centers Today

AUG 2018

Shopping Centers Today is the news magazine of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)

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26 S C T / A U G U S T 2 0 1 8 All packed and ready Italy's O Bag is opening hundreds of U.S. stores as part of its global expansion By María Bird Picó I talian retailer O Bag is accelerating its global growth, confident that its customizable handbags will gain an international following. is year the Padua, Italy–based company will roll out stores in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, Japan, South Asia and South Africa. In the U.S. alone, the plans are for about 100 stores annually, beginning this year. e company may well have good reasons for this optimism. An O Bag is so much more than just an ordinary tote bag: Made from a combination of silicone and a plastic foam material called XL Extralight, these bags are flexible, light and highly resistant to the ravages of sunlight, chlorine and salt water. e company's founder is Michele Zanella, an engineer and a former Benetton Group executive who introduced the O Clock watch — an immediate hit with consumers drawn to its simple design and variety of colors and styles. e O Bag followed this in 2012, and the company has since continued to bring out a range of colors, shapes and accessories each season. e product line has been expanded to backpacks, beach bags, bracelets, footwear for home and sun- glasses. e bags and accessories now account for 70 percent of the company's sales volume, which reportedly exceeds €100 million (about $116 million) per year. e bags typi- cally go for about €75. "Our best seller is the icon O Bag with the rope handles," said Benedetto di iene, the company's business developer. O Bag operates roughly 400 stores worldwide, about half of them in Italy. One-third of the stores are company-owned. In China the company already operates 15 stores. In the U.S. there are eight franchised stores — in Baton Rouge, La.; Boca Raton, Fla.; Boston; Burlington, Mass.; Chicago; Miami; Nashville, Tenn.; and Natick, Mass. "We have high demand for our products [in the U.S.], and for this reason, we would like to create a network of stores combined with e-commerce," said di iene. "We have an important development plan and many [U.S.] territories to cover." In Latin America O Bag operates in Mexico, Panama and Chile and is set to enter Puerto Rico this year, at Plaza Las Américas, in Hato Rey, San Juan. e company is "evaluating some strong partners with a retail approach" as it seeks entry into new markets in the region, according to di iene. O Bag typically seeks shop spaces measuring about 550 square feet, on main commercial streets and in high-traffic malls. n Leasing inquiries may be directed to Benedetto di iene, O Bag's business developer, at benedetto.dithiene@ S T O R E F R O N T S The product line has been expanded to backpacks, beach bags, bracelets, footwear and sunglasses

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