Nepa, the South Korean outdoor brand, has opened a store in the center of Chamonix in order to learn about European consumer demand and to expand outside of its own country. The store is on three floors covering about 400 square meters, in a chalet that was previously the location of a trendy pub, Le Choucas.
Nepa is one of the largest Korean outdoor brands, but it has so far refrained from exploring foreign markets on a large scale. The company's chief executive, Park Chang-geun, told Korean reporters in April that Nepa would open a store in Chamonix and in China, with a target to have about 500 stores in five years' time, including shop-in-shops.
The Chamonix store manager, who previously worked at the town's flagship store for The North Face, said Nepa had opened a small outlet a few years ago near the Aiguille du Midi station, but the current location is much larger and more prominent. He added that the brand is working together with a design studio established in Annecy, Jonathan & Fletcher, and that the range would be adjusted to European demand over time.
Nepa's existing range includes many outdoor fashion products, aligned with the Korean market. The company even has a secondary outdoor fashion brand, Isenberg, launched three years ago. The products intended for the European market should have a more technical angle, probably including some skiwear.
Nepa's logo represents the horn of a mountain goat and its name stands for Nature Environment Preservation Advocate. Its sales reportedly reached 473.2 billion Korean won (€363.5m-$413.8m) in about 350 stores last year. These sales crawled up by just 0.6 percent, probably encouraging the company to study foreign expansion.
However, it's apparently not the first time that the Korean brand is starting up foreign sales. Its own website states that it opened an office in New York to cover the U.S. market in 2012 and attended the Outdoor Retailer fair in Salt Lake City the same year.
The plan unveiled in April reportedly called for the company to reach sales of 1.3 trillion Korean won (€999.0m-$1,136.9m) by 2020, aided by investments in research and development. The company aimed to expand Nepa into a brand with a turnover of 800 billion won (€614.7m-$699.6m), 300 billion won for Isenberg and Nepa Kids, and 200 billion won for foreign sales.