How Swiss Bally is trying to transform after the bust of the China deal

The acquisition of the luxury brand by a Chinese textile giant was blown off. Now Bally is betting on flagship stores at special places.

There are many still believing that Bally is in the hands of the Chinese: In 2018 there were various hellos because of a press release that the textile group Shandong Ruyi will buy the majority of the iconic Swiss luxury brand. With the takeover from the German JAB Holdings Shandong Ruyi wanted to become a sort of “LVMH of China”.

However the Covid pandemic crossed the plans. A year ago it became clear that the textile giant from Jining was not able to bring up the USD 600 million for the acquisition of Bally.

What happened then? The Covid pandemic forced the closing of stores and the revenues of Bally were decreasing more than a fourth.

New stores in metropolitain areas

As per the trade portal “Business of Fashion”the JAB Holdings’ aimis that Bally should be on due course on the long run. The investment vehicle of the German milliardaire Reimann owns the footwear and fashion brand since 2008.

The sale of Bally is wiped-out of the table, as Bally CEO Nicolas Girotto has confirmed against “BoF”: There is no deadline to allow JAB an exit, says Girotto. In place the Swiss Luxury label will open in June three flagship stores in New York, London and Sydney.

Similar moves have taken place earlier: In 2014 the label opened a sales point at the Bond Street of London, three year later followed a store at Madison Avenue in New York. As Nicolas Girotto assumed his position as CEO, he was closing these locations because the rents were too high.

Now at the Swiss headquarters of Bally in the canton of Ticino is again betting on new shops. A different story as for a couple of year, assures the former Bally COO and now boss Nicolas Girotto. “To transform a brand like Bally means not only to invest money, but to insure a healthy and sustainable growth. Declares Girotto to “BoF”.

Meatpacking District statt Fifth Avenue

It is intended not to go to the “Highstreets”, but preferrably to locations where fashion, culture and food are crossing. Meaning that is where the buyers of the brand are located and not other luxury boutiques.

The new store in New York will take place in the hip Meapacking District, near the shops of Hermès and Marni, but also near the tourist attractions of the Whitney Museum and the hotel “The Standard”, thus a place where tourist and locals frequently stay.

In London Bally will move a few streets away from the actual location and be at New Bond Street. The mew location will be between the Zara branch in Regent Street and the Subway Station Piccadilly Circus, the preferred places of a younger clientele.

No big logos

The transformation of Bally will not bet as other luxury brands do on a visonary chief designer, but on custormers. Bally makes use of consumer surveys, organises A/B Tests for campaigns and social media posts and is testing prototypes with customers. All with the aim to understand customers, declares Girotto.

Bally is besides Akris the only global acdting fashion label from Switzerland. But not tending not anymore to show the “Swissness” profile as before, but with the historic past. This goes for sneakers or climber inspired leather boots, Bally hopes that customers will enjoy as before also classic elegance – and not only “noisy” brands. “It is not our task to be a fashionable brand, states Girotto. In view to the design “it would not make sense to transform Bally in a Gen-Z. brand”, remarks Girotto.

This means to renounce on clonky sneakers and large Prints of the Logos as other brands do right now.

Less is more

Nevertheless Bally is in need of a new generation of customers and Bally is trying to achieve this goal with videos and partnering with influencers. Also with new materials such as a line made from recycled Nylon, half Bally: In January to be in the Top-30 of the most discussed luxury brands at Douyin, a counterpart of Tiktok in China. A pair of Curling-Boots that was beneficial to am initiative to clean mountains was also a bestseller, states “BoF”.

The theme sustainability in the fashion world should help Bally. “Our timeless silhouettes are destined for longevity and a more responsible handling of fashion, claims Girotto.

These efforts seem to bear first fruits: the online sector showed a growth in turnover in the first quarter 2021 by 46 %.