Letter from the IADS President

juan carlos escribano el palacio de hierro ceo president

"The world of department stores is a world of passion. Throughout my career until today, I have always been smitten with the commitment of all our teams into making sure that their department store – ‘their’, as the notion of being part of a family is, in our business, not a legend – is something more than a place to buy things. A place of experience, surprise, discovery or simply good times with friends, department stores have been, since the very first day, windows open to the world and to everybody. Founded and still run today by visionary families, most of these ventures pursued their progressive mission across the years and eventually turned into sizeable businesses. 

The world is changing, and we believe that department stores keep a central role in retail, society and consumers’ lives as a whole. By being landmarks for communities, open to everybody without distinction of class, gender, origin or income, and by being a bridge between the heart of cities and the world itself, department stores talk about the meaning of being together in a world threatening to separate us. This is why we will always do what it takes, with our teams, to remain at the centre of our clients’ lives in a meaningful way.

Having said that, department stores are faced with a double paradox. Firstly, even though most of department stores enjoy a worldwide fame and visibility, each of them is, at the end of the day, a small or medium-sized enterprise when compared to international and regional brands, our partners, or worldwide e-commerce players, our competitors. We are very local and rooted into a territory. Secondly, although information is vastly available nowadays, its oversaturation creates the need of a higher perspective to make sense of what we learn to make the right decisions. The combination of both these facts explains department stores’ need for an international exchange about best practices and new methods of management, which has been the mission of the IADS since its creation in 1928.

New business models appear every day. Entrepreneurs from across the world are coming with new ideas. By challenging the traditional thinking and betting future earnings into speeding up to get the biggest slice of the pie as fast as possible, they reset the game’s rule and force us to reinvent ourselves. The Association, a think-tank allowing business leaders of the industry to freely and confidentially exchange between themselves, is a tool designed to generate new thinking and innovate, to counter the falling profitability and, ultimately, continue playing our social role. After all, even if they have been growing along with the increase of worldwide tourism, department stores are the very expression of local business in the era of globalization and all-internet. By addressing the future together, they show that it is possible to turn new ideas into realities, adapted to the ever-changing world, through the actions of the IADS.

IADS builds bridges between us, allows us to freely discuss, addresses strategical and technical topics and trains our talents, always in full transparency and information sharing, our core values.

We believe in acting together."

Juan Carlos Escribano
President of IADS
Chief Executive Officer of El Palacio de Hierro

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