Ka&Ka, the Italian company that produces a line of comfortable and fashionable stritch-and-turn shoes under the The Flexx label, is repositioning the brand in a younger segment of the market. Reacting to the proliferation of new brands that are offering similar shoes, it is also developing a network of company-owned and franchised stores in Europe and the rest of the world, with a fresh look and special merchandising.
The Flexx will have about 20 stores in operation by the end of this year based on a new concept that has been successfully tested at a pilot location of 50 square meters opened in April on Corso Venezia in Milan, not far from the famed Via della Spiga. The ambience is very bright to focus the visitor's attention on the product. Some of the styles are presented in the middle of the store on unique displays where they are surrounded by artificial flowers.
By the end of the year, The Flexx should have three or four stores in Italy, including one in Florence, plus one in Barcelona and about 15 in the Asia-Pacific region. One of them opened a few days ago in the Ginza district of Tokyo. There will be about seven others in South Korea, three in Malaysia and two in Shanghai. They would complement a network of about 30 dedicated stores and department store corners operated by Cobblers, the brand's distributor in Hong Kong.
With the help of a retail and marketing expert, The Flexx also launched a new website a year ago. It provides an overview of its collections and its distributors around the world in three languages, but it doesn't yet sell the products.
The collection, the marketing and the merchandising have been updated to appeal to a modern women aged 30 to 50. The collection was previously designed mainly for women over 50, but they may still find what they are looking for in 30 percent of the models.
About 40 percent of the brand's turnover is made with about 15 best-sellers, including relatively traditional stitch-and-turn ballerinas, that are refreshed every season. They are stocked by the company, which is based near the Tuscan town of Pistoia, and they are available in all sizes for quick reorders, even in small quantities.
The company has dropped a previous plan to develop a line of apparel for a total look. It will concentrate on the women's market. Most of the shoes are still produced in two third-party factories in Moldova, where labor costs are very low.
Ka&Ka is still run by Axel Kaiser, a German executive whose family claims to have invented the production process used by the company. He launched The Flexx in 2006, after working for Aerosoles and other companies.
Excluding the production of private label items for third parties, the company generated sales of around €45 million with The Flexx in 2014, about 20 percent more than in 2013. It predicts a sales increase of just over 3 percent 2015 because of the consolidation of the existing business.
A new phase of growth is expected following the recent appointment of a new global sales director, Aldo Tomaini, who worked for Geox for ten years, mostly in the Asia-Pacific region. He fills a long empty position left by the departure of a former commercial director, Marco Serpelloni, who previously worked for Lumberjack, Primigi, Stonefly and Geox.