Monaco-based retailer and wholesaler, Banana Moon, has big plans for the coming years.
The company, which now runs 52 Banana Moon franchises and affiliated stores in approximately 15 countries, plans to open an additional 15 stores worldwide in 2009/2010, and expand into new territories like Switzerland and Croatia. Stores range in size from 900 to 1200 square feet, and the company employs 75 workers in Monaco, and runs 15 factories in China and Tunisia. In addition to being sold in Banana Moon stores, the company?s apparel, which boasts a "California Flair," is sold at major European stores.
The California flair of the brand goes right back to it's 1986 roots, when husband and wife Daniel and Véronique Flachaire, and their friend Bernard Donati met french designer Nat Matori. The four started Banana Moon as a swim/beachwear wholesaler, expanding into a franchise network in 2000.
Over the years, they have also expanded beyond their original niche to develop sportswear, accessories, ready to wear, and finally, intimate apparel starting in 2005. However, despite the expansion, the original founders still run the company.
"Some of our customers were looking for a brand display to change their multi brand store into a competitive franchisee system," Fouchet said, adding that they have a department dedicated exclusively to the franchise business.
The company's apparel, which includes the Banana Moon Sunwear and Intimates lines, is mainly geared toward the junior market, with it's vibrant colors and trendy, American-inspired fashions.
The Sunwear line includes bathing suits for men, women and children, and beachwear and other apparel for women. It runs at retail prices of 50 to 70 Euros, ($75 to $90 at the current exchange rate). The intimates line includes undergarments for women, and other apparel for men, women and children. Items retail at 35 to 55 Euros, the equivalent of $45 to $75, with bras running from a 32AA to a 42C.
According to Foucet, the typical customer is a woman of average size, who spends approximately 110 euros, or $138, on a swimsuit and accompanying accessory.
Current most-requested items include triangle bikinis with removable pads and bandeau briefs at a retail price of 70 Euros (about $85).
To serve the dominant female demographic, there are teams of fitting specialists in every store, and managers handle buying based on recommendations by the franchise team. Staff members attend tradeshows including London Beachwear, Miami Swim and Madrid SIMM annually.
According to Fouchet, the merchandise is not the only thing that makes a Banana Moon shopping experience unique: it's the look and layout of each store.
"The Banana Moon concept is designed to make consumers feel like they are in the middle of the popular Banana Moon universe," he said. "The consumer enters a fancy, colorful and young atmosphere."
He added that easy accessibility and good-quality products keep shoppers coming back. In addition to offering wide inventory on their core products, the company beats out local competition and keeps sales up by advertising in catalogs and women's consumer magazines like Elle and Cosmopolitan. Other keys to their success are making "qualitative and creative" apparel, keeping deliveries timely and opening stores in prime shopping locations. Customer service is also a top priority.