Happy Look, one of the top three eyewear retailers in Russia, has opened a store in a new format, which the company describes as “the megastore.” Occupying an area of 875 square meters, the new store opened a few weeks ago in St. Petersburg, after investments of nearly €200,000, about 20 times more than on a conventional store.
The store is believed to be the biggest in the country and is also believed to be the most expensive one. It offers 6,000 styles of prescription frames and sunglasses, more than in any other eyewear store in the country. It is meant to strengthen Happy Look's reputation among Russian customers.
If the project is successful, Happy Look plans to open several megastores in other Russian cities with a population of more than one million people including Moscow, Rostov and Yekaterinburg. In general, the company estimates that the megastore will provide a return on investments within four years.
Happy Look is planning to add a total 80 doors to its network in the course of 2018, opening new stores in the biggest cities, in major holiday resorts and in Siberia, after about 50 new openings in the second half of last year. It is part of an expansion program that began in mid-2017, with the objective of doubling the size of the company's store network. At that time, Happy Look had 140 stores operating in 30 Russian cities.
As part of the program, Happy Look is planning to open at least 40 new stores in Moscow and St. Petersburg. In the meantime, the eyewear retailer has already launched its first stores in seven major cities of Siberia, in addition to Sochi and some neighboring cities on the Black Sea coast.
Natalya Polyakova, the executive director of Happy Look, said that the Russian eyewear market was estimated to be far from saturation. After the economy crisis that began to affect in the country in 2014, the demand on the market shifted toward the low-priced sector.
This forced the company to readjust its retail network by closing down some low-margin and loss-making stores and relocating others to large shopping centers with high customer traffic. However, the domestic eyewear market seems to be gradually recovering, and so the company decided to launch a major development project.
According to GfK, sales in the Russian eyewear market reached the equivalent of €707 million in 2007, rising by 2.7 percent as compared to the previous year. The average Russian resident spends €5.50 per year for eyewear, which is significantly less than in other European countries.