Retail in Asia


EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Mr. Lorenzo Boglione, BasicNet Executive Vice Chairman

K-Way® French outerwear brand has partnered with Bluebell Group, Asia’s leading omnichannel brand partner and operator. After the brand’s in-market digital launch in June, they will now be opening their new mono-brand store at Pacific Place, one of Hong Kong’s most premium shopping malls, in October 2022.

Founded in Paris in 1965, the iconic French brand known for its windbreaker, lifestyle fashion and sportswear, is part of BasicNet, an Italian company that also owns Kappa, Superga, Briko and Sebago, and on track to rapidly expand beyond its homebase. Bluebell Group will manage the brand’s overall presence including an online e-commerce shop, local marketing activation and overall retail operations.

Retail in Asia had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Lorenzo Boglione, BasicNet Executive Vice Chairman, on K-Way’s latest development and the expansion in Asia.

RiA: What made you land on K-Way in the first place? Do you judge it purely from BasicNet Group’s point of view or do you rate brands individually? 

The company was founded around Kappa, which was our initial business. Each brand that was added after that was considered separately. In addition, we are considering potential synergies and the way the brands would work within the group. I would say it is a mix for sure. It is difficult to determine all of the synergies when you are acquiring a brand. Therefore, you must conduct this analysis individually.

RiA: Do you have a set of criteria for potential partnering heritage brands? What usually seals the deal for you?

Getting along with the people is, from my perspective, the most important step. In order for your brand to be distributed in a particular country, those involved need to have a strong sense of passion for it. It is essential that you love the brand and recognize the opportunity it presents. You also need to get along with people, which is essential. They need to be passionate about the brand as well. It is essential that they are able to identify the brand’s opportunities in the market as well as gain experience in the retail, wholesale, online, and general sectors of the industry.

Source: K-Way

RiA: What does opening up the first K-Way store in Hong Kong mean to the BasicNet group?

Certainly, this is a significant milestone, especially for us in the industry. Hong Kong is currently experiencing a difficult time as a result of the pandemic, and the new situation with regard to China, but Hong Kong has always been a major shopping destination in Asia. Being there, having a shop there, being present is an extremely significant milestone. I am optimistic about Hong Kong. The city will continue to hold its strategic position.

RiA: Should we expect other brands under the BasicNet group to follow suit in the near future?

That is possible, in fact, K-Way is opening more stores in Asia at this time, and we recently opened a store in Tokyo. In the next few weeks, we will open a store in Beijing and one in Shanghai. We are very excited about the opening of stores in Asia, and the process is ongoing.

RiA: Is Hong Kong a stepping stone for K-Way to penetrate the Chinese market?

As of today, I do not believe that is the case. I mean in the past it might have been an option, however now it is difficult to actually move from Hong Kong to China. It is not the case today. At the very least, we are not doing this for that purpose. We are doing this to establish a standalone business for K-Way in Hong Kong. Since we have no idea how and when we will be able to interact again with China, we cannot expect that to occur. China, Korea, Japan make up a significant part of the global market. We make sure to address the market properly because it is a very large market.

Source: K-Way

RiA: How do you adjust each brand’s offering based on the taste of different markets? For example, does the product line up in K-Way France differ from that of K-Way Hong Kong?

We strive to have a global offering, and we work with our local partners to guarantee that we have products that are appropriate for specific markets, climates, seasons, sizes, and fittings. Therefore, we do a lot of work to ensure that we serve the needs of local customers in the best possible manner.

RiA: Does the partnership with Bluebell indicate an Asian expansion for K-Way in the near future?

In fact, as I just stated, we are planning to open several stores. We began looking for new partners in Asia after the pandemic started, essentially reorganizing the distribution system. After a year, there are four shops opening within one month, and we hope that this is just the beginning, and many more will follow shortly.

RiA: Being the company behind an extensive list of heritage brands, what is the trick in brand revival?

There is no single answer to that question. No single recipe works always in the same way. It depends on the brand. It depends on the moment. It’s at the heart of our know-how.

Source: K-Way

One of the most important aspects from my perspective is that we strive to maintain the essence of the brand as much as possible. Our brands have decades of history behind them. Therefore, we need to be true and honest in describing those years, those times, and that time period in the brand’s history.

RiA: The regeneration of the BasicVillage Milano echoes with the company’s core business offering – brand revival, was that intentional?

We are currently located in Torino, which is approximately an hour and a half away from Milan. At this time, we felt it was necessary to see our customers in a location that reflected the values of our brand in Milan. We were fortunate enough to locate a space that was suitable for our needs. So we decided to create this special hub for our brand new product line. It gives customers the opportunity to get to know our brand and organization as a whole.

RiA: Where do you see BasicNet in 5 years? Is the group eyeing on any other interesting heritage brands at the moment?

Those brands don’t come to the market that often. We are cautious when making acquisitions, and we intend to continue to do so. We will, however, continue to do so if the opportunity arises. Nevertheless, the objective is to grow the brands in a sustainable manner, to ensure that they are available not only for the next five years, but for the next twenty years.