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IADS 100: launch of the first Department Stores global observatory

press 31 May 2021 Press release

The International Association of Department Stores (IADS) launches the first ever global observatory dedicated to the department store format, as part of its benchmarking and analysis role.

The 2020 Covid-19 global pandemic accelerated and amplified existing fractures and challenges for the department store format. If some spectacularly failed, such as JC Penney and Lord & Taylor in the US, Onuma in Japan or Debenhams in the UK, other companies showed a surprising agility and adaptation to harsh conditions. They modified their offer, sold new products or services in a novel way, and wholly embraced e-commerce, including marketplaces (which are a digital iteration of their original activity). It is telling that, after almost 2 years of difficulties, new projects decided prior to the pandemic are maintained, be it in Europe with La Samaritaine (2021), El Corte Inglés Castellana in Madrid (2020), or in the rest of the world, with Falabella planning new stores in South America, SKP, The Mall Group or SM in Asia, Galeries Lafayette and Printemps in China.

This dynamism and resilience, coupled with a data notoriously difficult to access (due to a wide variety of formats, business models and ownership), should generate a keen interest and make department stores a privileged topic for observation. This is the reason why IADS is launching a tool to monitor progress and provide objective data as a base for discussion and comparison, for a department store market whose size is estimated at between €400 and €600 billion.

A yearly tracking which takes account of the variety of formats and regional differences

The IADS 100 is a list of 100 international and significant department stores, selected as a representative sample of the format, be it in terms of size variety, model and market position. The ambition of this list is not be exhaustive, nor a ranking of the largest or most successful companies, but a tracker, compiling and comparing data to understand the present and the future of this somewhat challenged format.
Department stores, even if they still adhere to common principles (free entry, fixed price, size, assortment width), became diverse and more complex with the years:

  • In size and structure including chains, flagships, large and small,
  • In ownership with many private businesses and others forming part of public holding companies,
  • In models with some acting more like shopping malls (concessions) while others conduct wholesale businesses,
  • In market position, ranging from high luxury to everyday family assortments,
  • In adoption of e-commerce ranging from practically nothing to well over half of the total business.

Some of these characteristics are specific to locations, with Asian companies tending to favour a concession model, for example, or some of the large US companies resulting from decades of mergers and takeovers. Highest growth is taking place in Asia, while the most fragmented continent is Europe and the most consolidated is the Americas.

The 100 companies tracked by the IADS 100 (30% of worldwide players) represent half of the total market share in the world

The IADS 100 tracks 39 companies from Asia (€88 billion turnover), 34 from Europe (€55 billion), 17 from Americas (€67 billion), and 10 from MEA (€7.6 billion), for a total monitored turnover of €218 billion (between 37% and 54% of total market size).

The tracker is a work in progress and aims at collecting verified and comparable information as much as possible: due to the fact that it deals with a variety of business models, perimeters, fiscal years and even reporting standards, the value of the IADS 100 will grow with time, as the list evolves dynamically.

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