Suited and booted: Fashion chain Reserved painting the world red with its global expansion

From London to Moscow, Reserved is a visible presence on the European high street. Kalbar / TFN

From its humble beginnings in Gdańsk, high street fashion company Reserved has come a long way – and it has no plans of stopping.

From London to Moscow, Reserved is a visible presence on the European high street. Its on-trend designs, frequent additions and accessible price point, have an appeal that goes far beyond Poland’s boarders.

With 450 shops in twenty countries in Europe and the Middle East, the Polish clothes brand seems unstoppable. Along the way, it has worked with international fashion icons such as Kate Moss and Cindy Crawford, the star of its spring 2018 campaign.

As more Polish companies mull expansion abroad, Reserved is a success story for others to try to emulate. It shows how expansion within Central and Eastern Europe, followed by key European cities, can be a stepping stone to broader international success.

Reserved is owned by Polish fashion conglomerate LPP Group. The Gdańsk-based company began as a small clothing wholesaler in 1989, as communism was collapsing in Poland. A decade later, it opened its first shop.

Apart from Reserved, its brands now include Cropp, House, Mohito and Sinsay, geared towards different groups of customers. Together, the brands have almost 1700 shops – with an area of over 1 million square metres. Designed in Gdańsk, Reserved clothes are primarily manufactured in Asia, though the company says it is shifting more production to Poland and Europe to keep up with trends.

Since the early 2000s, Reserved has been expanding in the region. It now has shops throughout Central and Eastern Europe, including Ukraine and Belarus. In 2002, it moved into Russia, where it now has over 250 stores, accounting for a large chunk of LPP Group’s revenue. Since 2014, it has been expanding rapidly in Germany from Hamburg, focusing on the major cities.

Reserved is expanding outside Europe, too. In 2015, it made its first step in the Middle East, opening a showroom in Cairo. Since then, it has moved into Qatar, Kuwait and the UAE, too. The collection there is somewhat different from the one in Europe, mainly due to the hotter climate, which means fewer heavy winter coats. Sensitive to cultural differences, it also offers a selection of elegant clothing tailored towards Ramadan, featuring dresses with long skirts and covered shoulders.

London was another milestone in the company’s expansion. Tipped as “Poland’s answer to Topshop”, the popular British fashion retailer, the company opened a shop of 3000 square metres on Oxford Street in September 2017, after signing a lease with BHS on its flagship London store.

The opening was accompanied by an advertising campaign featuring Kate Moss, which could be seen on London’s double-decker buses. In Britain, Reserved will offer “a specially designed line of clothes and accessories which discreetly communicate Polish culture and design,” LPP announced in its website.

For the company, the prestigious shopping location on Oxford Street – which has some 120 million visitors a year – is a way to build Reserved global image. “London is truly a global city, a European fashion capital and a window to the world, visited by hundreds of millions of tourists annually,” said Marek Piechocki, CEO of LPP SA, who co-founded LPP in 1989. “We wish to build global recognition of Reserved as a brand and LPP as a company. Our presence on Oxford Street marks an important step in this direction.”

Piechocki recognises that London is a test for Reserved – if it can succeed there, it can succeed anywhere. Meanwhile, LPP is banking on further growth in 2018. It has ambitious plans, including increasing its retail space by another 10% compared to 2017 and opening around 50 new shops. Some of these will be in new markets – in Kazakhstan, Israeli and Slovenia. At this rate, there will be no stopping it.