Apodemia strengthens foothold in Spain, eyes global expansion
"Unique design, quality and delicacy" are the words that come to Jaime Landeta's mind when describing Apodemia's universe.
Founded as a jewelry firm in 2013, the Spanish brand has become, in just under a decade, one of the sector's leading players in the Spanish market. Now, the company is moving past the impact of the pandemic and is gaining momentum as it gets older with a clear goal: to continue consolidating its incremental growth and go out to conquer the foreign market. FashionNetwork.com interviewed the brand's CEO, responsible for having driven the company together with his partner and head of design, Jimena von Knobloch.
Apodemia is going global. "It all started as a hobby, but it has gotten out of hand. Our expansion plan is based on two lines of work. In Spain, the results are going quite well. Our plan is to continue setting up our own stores and to open five points of sale in El Corte Inglés before the end of 2022," said Landeta about the company's position in the Spanish market.
Last September, the brand opened its first store abroad in Andorra, where it plans to reach three points of sale next to the Pyrénées department store. By the end of the year, the Madrid-based company is aiming to have 30 points of sale and, over the next two years, to open around 20 stores in Spain.
"Internationalization is a high priority for us. In December, we will open our first stores in Mexico with Liverpool and, starting next year, we are planning to open stores in many more countries," the CEO announced, adding that Mexico is Apodemia's second largest country in terms of online sales volume outside the Iberian Peninsula. However, the businessman remains cautious, unlike the physical implementation strategies applied by many brands a few years ago.
Careful and selective expansion
"We are not going to massively expand in the physical channel. Our company has always believed in modern retail. In the past, we used to open 200 points of sale in Spain, while now opening more than 50 or 60 is practically suicide because the percentage of online sales is already very high," he said.
"Stores are used to provide reassurance and after-sales assistance, to live the brand experience and make products known. It allows companies to sell very well and has a lot of profitability, but you have to know that right now sales come through two strong channels to establish the right strategies," said the CEO, detailing that online sales already account for 25% of the company's total turnover, while in 2018 it was only around 5%.
"We want this number to continue to grow, along with solid support from the physical store," he added. In fact, during the pandemic, the online channel was fundamental in getting through the crisis and health restrictions.
"The store closures didn't affect us much in terms of sales; practically everything was transferred to the online channel. And, since then, we have tripled our sales," admitted Landeta, acknowledging that Covid-19 acted as a "catalyst for digital sales, which accelerated strongly."
Regarding the evolution of the physical channel, Landeta made himself clear. "Before, there used to be destination and proximity stores, so it made sense to reach many points of sale. Today, it is more difficult to find spaces in streets with a high volume of foot traffic, as they are limited," he argued.
On transforming the point-of-sale customer experience, he added: "I think that the attempt to change the shopping experience at physical points of sale responds to odd evidence; digitizing the customer experience at a point of sale is not something that is so necessary. People like to go to physical stores to touch the products and try them on, which has always been the case. The key is to create beautiful stores that reflect the universe, represent the brand and its experience. The biggest change concerns foot traffic and the disappearance of multi-brand, neighbourhood and proximity stores. Today, people who want to shop at a brand's store have to go to shopping centres to do so."
Spain's jewellery boom
Apodemia's inception has coincided with the boom, over the last few years, of fashion jewelry companies in Spain, such as P de Paola, TwoJeys and La Manso.
"In 2009, the jewelry sector worldwide had a turnover of about 150 billion and, today, it is already at 300 billion. To increase this level of turnover, many brands that did not exist before have emerged," said Landeta, recalling the market study that allowed him to recognize the industry's potential.
"It's a very positive thing that a sector begins to have many players. This phenomenon fragments sales and indicates that the market situation is expansive and that there is a change in consumption trends. From buying a coat every few seasons, we have gone on to buy three in the same season, and this applies to all sectors," said the entrepreneur, stating that "the jewel that will last a lifetime and will be passed down as an inheritance no longer exists".
He concluded: "Today people are looking for jewellery suited for events and moments in life. Everyone consumes a lot and customers want to feel themselves represented in each brand."
The company has responded to this need by gradually diversifying its offering. "Apodemia is a lifestyle. The customer doesn't come looking for a piece of jewellery, but for a product that makes them feel a certain way, a particular essence that is closely associated with the brand. They don't just want Apodemia on their neck, ears or arms, but also in their homes," said Landeta, acknowledging that it is "a universe in full bloom" that already represents 10% of turnover and has great growth potential.
Product diversification to expand brand universe
It was during the company's second year that this concept was born, when customers began to ask if it was possible to purchase perfume in the stores. "We thought: 'why not?'" quipped the entrepreneur. Since then, the brand has already expanded its offer to include air fresheners, scented candles and even collections for babies and pets. Clothing is the only limit Apodemia has set for itself.
"We have no intention of going into this area, which is already very well developed by other brands, but when it comes to accessories, the possibilities are endless and we will continue to expand our offer," he said.
These initiatives, however, do not overlook the company's core offering of premium jewellery targeting customers between the ages of 21 and 45. "Our product suits personalities and retailers. We have never wanted to be a luxury brand, our positioning is premium. We offer quality at a worthwhile price," said Landeta, noting that the average price of the brand's products is around 70 euros and that customers make 1.9 purchases per receipt.
Designed "in house" and 80% manufactured in Spain, the pieces boast an investment in increased quality. "Our goal was to offer a premium product of very high quality that does not undergo premature ageing," said the businessman, explaining that the brand's jewellery is resistant to water as well as fragrances and soaps. In addition, Apodemia has implemented a jewellery cleaning service in its stores to increase their longevity.
This strategy seems to be paying off. With its own initial investment of 3,000 euros, the company was founded by von Knobloch, who had studied advertising and PR before joining Condé Nast, and Landeta, who holds a degree in economics and has a background in finance working for BBVA and Altium Capital.
Sales of 7 million euros in 2022
"Since the launch of the company, we have sustained an annual growth of 70%," said the CEO, stating that the company expects to close 2022 with a turnover of 7 million euros and to continue to grow at this same rate in the future. In the coming years, the brand aims to double its turnover in Spain.
Although in 2015 the company closed a 1 million euro financing round with minority partners who backed its domestic development, Apodemia is not ruling out new capital investments. "In terms of internationalization, we are being approached by many investors and we are listening to proposals. We are looking for a partner that shares our philosophy. We have never wanted to make a big splash, but rather to consolidate our client portfolio. That is something that can be achieved with a long-term strategy, not by seeking profitability in the same year," acknowledged Landeta.
"A successful internationalization is not achieved in two days, you have to be patient and not get too anxious about growing. We have 10-year plans and it is a way of working that pays off," Landeta stressed.
For the entrepreneurial duo, the key to success is to work hard and take it one step at a time. "I think the big problem for many entrepreneurs is that they want to grow very fast all the time. That doesn't let you see and hear what people want," acknowledged Landeta, adding: "We have grown slowly but surely, and with a pandemic in our midst. We have been experiencing different crises for six years out of the 10 years that the company has been in crisis, but we have not stopped working under great pressure and we have continued to grow."
Although the businessman believes that the sector's success has helped his brand's own success, he also mentions other influential factors that played a role in its development. "The luck train is always passing by. What matters is that it catches you working and with the courage to get on it," he concluded with a smile, just before returning to the company's new offices in Madrid's Arturo Soria Street. Apodemia currently employs 120 people.
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