Looking Back at 23 Years in Mexico’s Retail Market
STORY INLINE POST
This month C&A Mexico is proud to be celebrating its 23rd anniversary. Although it may sound small next to the 180 years that the C&A brand celebrated last year, it is no less of an achievement and a great reason to celebrate!
Mexico was C&A’s second market outside of Europe and the initial team began work back in 1996, to achieve the first C&A store opening in Puebla in 1999. C&A created an innovative new store concept for the Mexican market. At the center of the store was a large tower housing a DJ and customers could find an in-store café next to it. After a few years of evolution, the café was selling beer and potato chips. Yes, I’m referring to those chips, the now infamous “papas C&A.” Although we stopped selling them more than 10 years ago, they remain top of mind for Mexican consumers.
C&A expanded throughout the country, opening over 20 stores in the first five years and by 2007 had a portfolio of more than 50 stores. The company struggled through the recession of 2008-2009 and in 2010 entered a joint venture with Bradesco for our retail financial services business. The partnership continues successfully and we continue to manage our portfolio of over 1 million credit cards. Our PLCC is a popular first card for students, helping them to establish a credit history.
In 2015, C&A Mexico began a significant transformation, one that began with improvements to our product offering, incorporating a higher fashion component. We defined our new Market store concept and after a successful pilot in 2017, incorporated the concept in all new stores and remodeled over half of the store portfolio to our Market concept.
Then we focused on our infrastructure and, from 2016-2020, significant investment was made to eliminate obsolete legacy systems and implement Oracle Retail, a new POS, PLM, and create a Master database. The world of retail has become a digital one and our priority was to ensure we had the right infrastructure to launch our e-commerce business and begin a path toward omnichannel.
Who can forget the earthquake of 2017, which initially affected 32 of our stores. We were forced to close our store in the center of Mexico City for 15 months while the historical building was reinforced and then remodeled into a very special flagship store.
Then came COVID-19. COVID-19 hit the fashion sector significantly and C&A Mexico was no exception, especially since we were not selling online in March 2020 when the country closed, and all our stores had to close for at least 90 days. We took advantage of external partners to run cyamoda.com while we continued our in-house development and were able to relaunch the site earlier this year, now managed internally utilizing the Salesforce platform and allowing us to grow our digital share of the business.
In 2022, we can finally say that our business has fully recovered from the impact of COVID and now we are looking again to our future and defining strategies to grow the business and delight our customers.
C&A Mexico can be considered a “glocal“ company as we are part of a global brand, but our business is decentralized so we are able to dedicate ourselves exclusively to serving the Mexican market and optimize our collections for the Mexican consumer and lifestyle. All our products are designed in Mexico, produced exclusively for our stores and 60 percent is also made in Mexico.
C&A Mexico aims to empower Mexican consumers, helping them to be and show the best version of themselves through a great look. We work hard not only to offer fashionable products but to ensure they are affordably priced and offer a high level of value for money. We not only care about what we do but how we do it. We have a robust sustainability program that generates lots of pride in the organization. One example is our Bio-Wash Jeans, which are produced using technology that allows a 60 percent savings of water during their creation. In 2021, 85 percent of the jeans sold were Bio-Wash, saving approximately 169,000m3 of water (equivalent to 67 Olympic pools), all at Mexican suppliers. For more information on our sustainability programs, I am pleased to announce we just published our 2021 annual sustainability report, which can be found on our website.
Looking forward we are pursuing a strategy to accelerate the growth of the brand in Mexico, both in physical stores as well as online. We have three new stores opening before the end of 2022 and a plan to reach 100 stores by 2025. In November, we will be opening a store with a new, smaller format, focused on casual collections for men and women. We anticipate it will be very successful and we will be opening more of that format in the upcoming months.
We are increasing the number of products on our website and soon customers will be able to find all their favorite products both in stores and online. We continue to grow our Mercado Libre official store and are investigating additional marketplaces.
It’s impossible to discuss all that we have accomplished over the last 23 years in Mexico without mentioning all the incredible people who have been part of the C&A family. We have one of the most talented and passionate teams in the industry and it shows in everything we do. I am honored to have had the opportunity to lead this team for the last six years and look forward to more success in the future.
One thing is for sure: time flies in retail!