Japanese outdoor apparel specialist Goldwin is betting on expanding Europewide through its own Goldwin premium brand. The stepping stone for this strategy is the recent inauguration of its first flagship store in Europe, in Munich, on October 16. This opening, the fourth retail location globally, is part of a global expansion project and crucial as Munich is the city the group considers as one of most livable cities of Europe but also a key location for its proximity to the Alps with their leisure outdoor activities. The inauguration also coincided with the relocation of Goldwin Europe's operations headquarters from Zurich to Munich.

Goldwin Inc., founded in 1951 and listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, closed its FY2020 with a turnover of over €800 million and counts more than 2,000 employees. The group's portfolio includes some of the best brands in the world, from core outdoor to athletic brands. Some of them have their own trademark and include Goldwin and C3fit, others have their own trademarks for limited territories such as The North Face, Ellesse, Helly Hansen and Danskin. Others are licensed trademarks and include Speedo, Icebreaker and Woolrich. The group also shares a minority quota of Woolrich International and manages its presence in Japan. As part of this it also designs and produces the Woolrich Outdoor collection.

Naoki Kimura, general manager of Goldwin’s global business department, told us about the brand's future aims.


Where is Goldwin sold until now?
The Goldwin brand is sold in Asia (Japan, Korea and China), North America (USA and Canada) and Europe through a network of qualified wholesale stores counting approximately 520 doors worldwide of which 400 are in Japan, 20 in China, Taiwan and Philippines, 10 in North America and 90 in Europe–mostly in Italy, followed by Switzerland, Germany, UK, Spain, France, and Scandinavia.

In terms of markets weight, Japan and Asia currently account for 70%, and the remaining 30% is made up of Europe and North America.

The brand is sold through a range of stores from high level sporting goods chain and independents carrying Skiwear and C3fit collections to premium lifestyle boutiques carrying outdoor, athletic and lifestyle collections; among others there are WP Stores in Italy, Matches Fashion, Selfridges, Oi Polloi in the UK, Deru in Germany, Jelmoli and VMC in Switzerland, Au Vieux Campeur in France, Westerlind, East Dane and Performance Ski in the USA and Ssense and Altitude in Canada.

Our Direct-To-Consumer (DTC) distribution includes four DOS (Tokyo Marunouchi and Tokyo Harajuku in Japan, San Francisco in North America and Munich in Europe) and three e-com platforms in Asia, Europe and USA.

Goldwin recently opened its first European store in Munich
Photo: Goldwin
Goldwin recently opened its first European store in Munich
The store is located at Schäfflerhof in the city center
Photo: Goldwin
The store is located at Schäfflerhof in the city center
What are Goldwin's future strategies?
The goal is to develop the brand globally, increasing European business. As part of the strategy, the Munich flagship is one of the key assets to communicate directly to consumers, together of course with the e-commerce channel, which is having a very positive growth.

The Goldwin brand development plan sees a focus on three macro areas: Asia, Europe and North America. Asia is currently the most developed area in terms of turnover and brand awareness, in which the consolidation of the Japanese domestic market is accompanied by development in China, South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines. The European market sees a leading role in the development of the brand, both in terms of wholesale and digital wholesale expansion, but above all in terms of DTC development, through retail, direct e-com, together with a robust marketing and digital plan to increase customer base and create a stronger brand awareness.

The North American market has also started a reorganization and new development at wholesale level, in parallel with the opening of the first flagship store in San Francisco in 2019.

The commitment to manufacturing and the evolution of sales and marketing are the two wheels that will support a sustainable growth. In terms of channels the focus will be primarily on expanding directly operated stores, strengthening collaboration between directly managed business and e-commerce business that closely follows customer behavior.

Goldwin down shirt
Photo: Goldwin
Goldwin down shirt
What are Goldwin's future aims?
From a financial point of view the Goldwin group global annual turnover for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2020 has been ¥97.89 billion (over €800 million). The business objective for the Goldwin brand specifically is to reach 10% of the group turnover in the coming years.

In terms of brand value Goldwin's goal is to establish itself by fusing function and fashion. In terms of channel and market expansion the strategy is to open domestic and overseas stores to establish a unique core image. In terms of line development, the strategy foresees a renewal of the iconic Ski Line, a fine tune and improvement of the recently created Outdoor, Athletic and Lifestyle lines and a more complete C3fit line integration.


Does it aim to expand through both monobrands and multibrands?
Correct, the go-to market strategy will sees a harmonic omnichannel brand presence and development in physical DTC, e-commerce and wholesale. For FY20 the Goldwin brand turnover split is 70% wholesale and 30% DTC.

The plan foresees a physical DTC increase from the actual four stores to six-seven by 2022.


What percentage does e-commerce count for its sales so far?
For the Goldwin brand especially in Europe and USA e-com business has been strengthened recently, figures are still small but constantly increasing: the share of e-commerce on the total revenues rose globally from 10% to 20% during the Covid pandemic (in Europe from 5% to 10% as end of September). The Munich store was set up with an omnichannel backend, which, in addition to stock optimization, will soon allow services such as pickup in store, return in store, ship from store, e-reservation and home delivery.

At today in Europe DTC (retail + e-com) weight is around 15%; the aim is to reach 50%.


What collections will the company offer in Europe and how does it aim to differentiate itself in a very crowded market?
In Europe it will present the full global collection. The brand integrates the rationality of outdoors, comfort and usability with simple and sophisticated design, for urban customers who commune with nature on weekends and who have their own outdoor related style and a strong passion for quality and excellent execution. With the extensive experience of developing skiwear, Goldwin now presents also Outdoor, Athletic and Lifestyle collections, embedding its brand identity in simple, high performing and sophisticated products. Outerwear from Goldwin is aimed at those who seek a balance between high-tech fabrics and understated design.

Goldwin group has a proven excellence in developing outdoor brands with a contemporary a sophisticated touch. The success obtained with The North Face Japan and The North Face Purple label is an example of the product and market strengths. We think that this segment is partially not covered in Europe, and that European customers are looking to represent a new and relevant offer, progressive, highly technical collection, with the use only of the best materials and the best design.

For the moment the product offer will be the same one as sold worldwide. In the future we can consider developing a special capsule or special style for the European market.

Goldwin Gore-Tex Pro Stretch jacket
Photo: Goldwin
Goldwin Gore-Tex Pro Stretch jacket
In a suffering market as the European one–due to the effects of Covid-19–will Goldwin start specific strategies to regain the attention of disheartened consumers?
For sure Covid-19 restrictions and effects are slowing down any development plan in Europe, but, despite this, we decided to open the first flagship store in Munich as a positive sign of reaction against this crisis and are trying to bring the approach that in Asia has allowed us to pass the moment by focusing on recovery. We placed the highest priority on the safety of our customers and employees, and work to contribute to society as a company.

We will manage a crisis and adapt to the new normal after the end of the emergency, aim to shift into a sustainable business model and promote the foundation of the growth strategy that follows the next medium-term management plan. We learn and act from this difficult situation with the wisdom, self-control and unity of all Goldwin group employees. We develop with local teams and agencies a dedicated marketing, communication and digital plan for Europe to increase brand awareness and to create a Goldwin community.

In terms of group results, sales increased for the 10 consecutive years, setting a new high record for the second consecutive year and we are positive also about the specific European development plan.


Is sustainability playing a key role for Goldwin?
Goldwin follows a structured program of Corporate Social Responsibility, and is part of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by United Nations in 2015, a program of initiatives and products aimed at supporting the environment.

The brand produces sporty products according to the Green is Good concept focused on less impactful products. Its initiatives are based upon three pillars: Green Recycle, a program that collects secondhand products for creating new ones saving resources and lowering CO2 production; Green Material, selecting less harmful raw materials, and Green Mind meant to encourage wearing items for longer. ln February 2018 Goldwin signed a partnership with Japan Environment Planning and introduced Bring, a program meant to recycle all polyester products in a new resin.

In f/w 2020 the Green Down selection debuted and it will increase its offer for f/w 2021. It will soon launch a new Goldwin x Spiber collection [also see here].