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Malaysia’s Leather Avenue to expand across Asia

Malaysian leather goods and bags retailer Leather Avenue is planning a complete store redesign across its more than 30 outlets in Malaysia before it starts expanding across Asia.

The new retail concept is currently on show at the firm’s 3000sqft “La Galleria” flagship located in The Curve, which opened last September. The store design is intended to give customers an experience akin to looking at pieces of art in an interactive gallery, inviting the viewer to not only see the product, but to touch and smell the leather. The immersive experience is designed to allow customers to observe the quality of the products first-hand, offering a retail experience distinct from online shopping.

“We want to ensure Malaysians have access to premium quality leather goods, bags, and accessories without having to splurge on high-street brands,” said Leather Avenue executive director Stanny Chan. “Malaysians are typically not as brand conscious as other Asian consumers and are practical when it comes to purchasing leather goods that complement their fashion tastes without compromising on quality. That is precisely what we want our customers to experience premium quality fashion accessories.”

While only one “La Galleria” store is currently in operation, the brand is intending to open more in the next two to three years. The firm currently has plans to expand into prime locations and stores to showcase more products. 

While expansion within Malaysia remains the company’s current trajectory, Chan told Inside Retail Asia in an exclusive interview that he sees the potential to take its ideas abroad. The firm hopes to expand regionally over the next two to three years, including to Singapore and Indonesia, before moving into Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines later on. 

Leather Avenue is concurrently expanding its owned brands – Charles Berkeley and Lushberry – overseas, where they are now available in China, Dubai, Italy, the UK, Japan and several other countries.

Chan says Leather Avenue is predominantly a retail company, and as a retailer the challenge is to stay relevant.

“This has been especially difficult in the age of e-commerce, where not only are you competing with other retail stores, but with online brands as well.

“I believe you have to be agile, changing with the times and market rather than sticking to one business formula,” he said. “We previously focused solely on luggage and travel products, but we learnt that our sales were not at the optimal level, so we expanded our line to include more lifestyle products. We are currently looking to reach out to a younger audience and attract them with products that are more funky and colourful, with modern and fashionable designs.”

The main brands under Leather Avenue’s umbrella include Charles Berkeley, Esfolar, Cerruti 1881, Mendoza, The Bridge and Valentino Creations. The firm is also licensed to develop the Charles Berkeley and Esfolar brands in the territory.

“This means that we have a free reign to design new products that cater to the local market,” said Chan. “With this type of license agreement, we have more control over the margins, product mix and brand positioning in the local market.”

Leather Avenue is a family-owned company founded in 2010.

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