Surely many of you already know the story – real? – which tells that Bershka was born on the day Marta, Bershka’s youngest daughter, was born Amancio OrtegaHe told his father that Zara’s clothes were too formal. But what may not be known too much is that the person was behind the founding of this company Julian Imaz.

Before that, Imaz already had a close relationship with Inditex as it ran Comdipunt, the group’s subcontracting company. And he even spent a few years off it Ortega to lead the expansion of the new brand until an agreement was reached in 2000 to acquire 100% of Comdipunt. Until December of that year, the company continued to work as the exclusive supplier for Inditex, producing more than 50 million garments a year. The company focused on the manufacture of the Lefties collection, the low-cost fashion brand of the Ortega Group, acquiring important know-how in this segment.

change of course

At the same time, it was launched in stores in 2005 with the Friday’s Project chain. But it was only in 2010, with the opening of the Shana stores, that Comdipunt began to refocus its business on distribution, weaving a large network of stores in several countries around the world: the company stopped being a mere supplier to its to create own brand and generate value.

It appears that Julian Imaz has learned a lot Amancio Ortega, even a certain reluctance to be in the limelight. For this report we are joined by his son Óscar, head of expansion and visible face of the company in the media. Julián prefers to stay in the shadows, taking care of production and design, which is what he knows best.

“In April 2010 we had the opportunity to take a very good place in Barcelona, ​​​​at Portal del Ángel. Originally it was for the Friday’s Project, but we were really doing lefties back then. That gave us experience and we also knew that the market was starting to demand cheaper fashion. We are betting on a brand that we have registered for a long time, Shana; and we created a concept that didn’t exist on the market before, similar to that of Bershka 15 years ago: young fashion at unbeatable prices.”has explained Oskar Imaz.

“Then we saw that the brand was going really fast and we started converting the Friday’s Project stores to Shana to get a certain volume and become independent from Inditex because it can’t be made for just 10 stores. So we started opening franchises and our own stores and launched with 50 stores by the end of the year.” To explain.

And why was a business that was doing so well as a supplier to Inditex gone out of business? “From then on we focused all our resources on our brand because Comdipunt was a company with a lot of sales and profits, but what was the value? I only had it as long as they bought from us. We were just a manufacturer. But Shana is much more because we have a brand and an uptrend where before we were a downward-projecting supplier.”

As we can see, Comdipunt has used the experiences with Bershka and Lefties to come up with a concept that closely resembles them.

A model to imitate

Julian Imaz It has also adopted and applied different aspects of Inditex’s management method:

integrated producers. The company has reproduced the production method of the Galician group, characterized by a very close relationship with the producers. “They are integrated suppliers using the same system as Mercadona, which is the same as Inditex uses Comdipunt. These are companies that work exclusively for us and that we control in terms of margins and profits. We give them the designs and the production and set the margin they will earn. Most of it is local product, made in Europe, especially Spain, Portugal and Italy. And they are integrated providers that work exclusively for us.” The remaining 20% ​​is awarded to China and Bangladesh, where the manufactured product is purchased, albeit from exclusive designs by Comdipunt’s fashion experts.

‘Soon to be fashion’. Experts recognize that one of the keys to Inditex was to change the old model of seasonal fashion to constantly renew the catalog and in-store product. This made it possible to better match supply to demand, attract customers through constant novelty, and eliminate inventory by only producing what sold well and at the pace dictated by the market. Comdipunt is also committed to “Soon Fashion”.

master franchise. This international expansion formula is proving very useful in ensuring that the company keeps getting more pins on the map. “In each country we have agreements with experienced retail groups who already have experience in managing international brands. They open the stores directly, they don’t do sub-franchise. We use the same system as Inditex did when they started going abroad, although they are now opening themselves. Also, since Inditex is repurchasing the concessions to regain control in these countries, the groups have the experience, equipment and money made thanks to this repurchase. So we arrived at a good time.”indicates the expansion director.

One concept, multiple formats

Within the Comdipunt network, in addition to distinguishing between the two brands, we find both own stores – just over a fifth of the premises, all in Spain – and franchisees. The company offers two business models that adapt to both small and large investors.

Friday’s Project or Shana?
Both brands have things in common as they are budget fashion aimed at a young audience. But they have nuances. “Aimed at a younger audience between 14 and 30 years old, Shana is more dynamic and modern; while Friday’s Project is intended for a target between 25 and 45 years and is a simpler fashion to go to work. And price-wise, Friday’s Project is 15%-20% more expensive than Shana”.

independence and investment. As a minimum, the stores of both brands must be located in a commercial area and in cities with at least 15,000 inhabitants. From there, the scope of the project will distinguish two types of franchisees. “The profile is both self-employed and investors. We were looking for a profitable franchise model that required a lower investment,” confirms the expansion manager.

“The self-employment franchise typifies someone who wants to open a business or already has a business and wants to transform it, whether it’s a multi-brand outlet or a facility that doesn’t work. They are entrepreneurs who want to devote themselves to the business full-time. If they don’t have management skills, we train them. We send the dossiers on how the store is set up, how the clothes are placed… And since it is a single supplier, management is not complicated,” he clarifies Imaz. In this case, it would be premises between 120 and 150 square meters of sales space. “Sometimes 120 square meters on a main street is better than 200 on a side street. We are flexible there. We analyze all inquiries one by one and since we already have 200 stores, we do a mirror calculation of similar locations in similar cities,” he adds. And then there is the investor profile. The manager of Comdipunt points out that the billing of companies in cities with 15,000-20,000 inhabitants “allows to have a good salary there. These are stores that sell €250,000 a year with an 8% return.”