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The International Association of Department Stores (IADS) was founded in 1928 by a group of department stores to prepare and anticipate the future together. At the time, founding members were concerned to apply the latest management ideas to department stores,the leading retailing format of the time, as well as to learn from each other.
Three objectives were assigned to the IADS:
- To be an international bond between its members, facilitating exchange and communication
- To research the future of the business and anticipate its fundamental changes
- To promote cooperation and best practices
Today, IADS is the most exclusive and oldest professional department stores think tank in the world.
More than ever today, its role is crucial in a retail world saturated with information, where the industry players are facing many challenges in their individual markets: digital competition, social changes, sustainability concerns and deep changes in consumption patterns. The Association provides its members with a number of activities allowing them to share retail management experience and best practices.
The wide variety of business models and cultures represented provide the Association and its members with a richness in the exchange which is all the more valuable for the solutions and thought-provoking debates that it generates. Its uniqueness lies in the close relationship between its member CEOs, making it a very powerful asset for decision-making at the highest level.
IADS acts at different levels and aims to be operational through:
- Transformative meetings
between CEOs (on a very regular basis),
at senior levels, and
at the product offer level to identify market changes.
In all meetings, we answer collectively CEO questions, provide actionable solutions and help to effectively implement them in the member companies.
- Focused market knowledge, thanks to permanent exclusive research disseminated through a dedicated members-only information platform, as well as a monitoring data centre on market figures,
- The promotion of cooperation and future orientation, with our IADS Academy programme, a 25 year-old tailor-made workshop open to our members’ high potentials only. Over the years, we have trained 180+ executives from 28 companies in 21 countries, some of whom reached top positions in member and non-member companies (for IADS only, 3 CEO and 1 COO in 2020)
The Association, both through its activities and own expertise, is an additional resource for its members, be it in terms of strategic thinking or operational implementation.
Today, the Association gathers a group of 12 members across the world, with various sizes or business models, all leaders or key players in their respective markets, which represents more than €31bn cumulated annual turnover, achieved through more than 490 stores with 233,000 associates in 19 countries.
Its members are (in alphabetical order): Beco (Venezuela), Beijing Hualian Group (PRC), Breuninger (Germany), El Corte Inglés (Spain), El Palacio de Hierro (Mexico), Falabella (Chile), Galeries Lafayette (France), Lifestyle International Holding (Hong Kong), Magasin du Nord (Denmark), Manor (Switzerland), The Mall (Thailand), SM Store (Philippines).
More information on the members:
Centro Beco (Venezuela)
Centro Beco is the leading department store group in Venezuela. Created in 1961, it operates 6 stores in Caracas, Valencia, Maracaibo and Barquisimeto. In addition to its department stores activity, it operates clothing and furniture companies, and has strived to maintain a perfect level of service to its customers in spite of the Venezuelan economic downturn.
Beijing Hualian Group / SKP (PRC)
Beijing Hualian Group, founded in 1993 and today part of the 15 largest Chinese retail enterprises, operates among other formats the SKP department stores, which currently has 2 branches, in Beijing and Xi’an, in addition to an experiential concept-store in Beijing, SKP-S, which opened early 2020. SKP Beijing was the most productive department store in China in 2019 and the world’s second-most productive department store after Harrods in 2018.
The German group was founded in 1881 in Stuttgart, where the flagship is still located today. Breuninger operates 11 locations across Germany, and has been at the forefront of national retail innovations since its creation. The department store company benefits from an exceptional level of loyalty from its customers, thanks to specific and dedicated actions or events.
El Corte Inglés (Spain)
Founded in 1934, El Corte Ingles is the largest department store chain in Europe, and operates 93 stores in Spain, including the Madrid Castellana and Barcelona Catalunya flagships. It offers a global range of services in addition to the department stores branch, thus placing itself at the centre of Spanish retail. It is the largest member of the Association in terms of revenue, retail space and number of employees.
El Palacio de Hierro (Mexico)
El Palacio de Hierro was founded in 1891 in Mexico city by 2 Frenchmen, inspired by Le Bon Marché in Paris. The first department store in the country, Palacio de Hierro brought modernity to the country, and many Mexican people consider it to be part of the national heritage. Today, the chain operates 19 stores, with its flagship in Polanco, a Mexico City district, and prides itself in not being the largest chain in the country, but the most upscale. Its slogan, “Soy totalmente Palacio” (I am totally Palacio) has become almost part of its collective culture.
This transnational Latin American company, established in Chile, operates a total of 111 department stores across Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Peru. Its umbrella group, founded in 1889, was ranked 5th in the world in 2019 in terms of total sales, behind Macy’s, Kohl’s or Lotte and is the second most important member of the Association in terms of turnover. Falabella is well ahead in digital, as online sales already account for a significant share of their total sales.
Galeries Lafayette (France)
The iconic French group was founded in 1894 and remains as of today one of the few department stores still managed directly by the founding families. It operates 79 stores in France, including the Paris Haussmann flagship, the newly-opened Champs-Elysées store, the renovated BHV and other ventures such as Eataly in France. Galeries Lafayette are among the most productive members of the Association in terms of sales per square metre, and the most productive per associate.
Lifestyle International / Sogo (Hong Kong)
Lifestyle International acquired in 2000 the Hong Kong Sogo department store, on Causeway Bay, from Japanese parent company Sogo. The Causeway Bay store is one of Hong Kong’s largest stores in terms of space, and a landmark thanks to its façade decorated with the largest LED screen in Southeast Asia. Another store was opened in 2005 in Kowloon, and there is a project to open in coming years a third unit in Kai Tak. Sogo Hong Kong is famed for its high-end delicatessen store Freshmart.
Magasin du Nord (Denmark)
Magasin du Nord is an historic landmark in Denmark: it was founded in 1868 with the first department store opened in 1871 in Aarhus. It operates today 7 stores, with the flagship located in Copenhagen, in Kongens Nytorv public square. It is currently owned by UK-based group Debenhams. It is the second most productive company in terms of sales per employee in the Association.
Property of Maus Freres, the Manor Group was founded in Lucerne in 1902, however the Manor name appeared only in 1965, being the contraction of Maus and Nordmann, the names of the 2 founding families. The group operates 61 stores across Switzerland, and is the largest operator in the country in terms of retail market share. In addition to department stores, it also operates supermarkets and restaurants.
The Mall Group (Thailand)
The Mall group started operations in Bangkok in 1981, and soon acquired pre-eminence in terms of retail operations as a whole: it operates shopping centres (such as Siam Paragon, Power Mall, Emporium, EmQuartier..) and department stores (The Mall). It currently operates 10 stores, and is the first member of the Association in terms of average retail space per store. It has engaged in an ambitious development plan for the coming years, including renovation of existing stores and new openings.
SM Store (Philippines)
The umbrella group, SM Investment Corporation, founded in 1960, is the largest and most diversified retailer in the Philippines. Its retail division, SM Stores, operates 64 department stores nationwide, and is the second largest member of the Association in terms of total retail space. It is famously involved in developing ties with local communities, to help them develop business and image on a national basis.
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