Maite Gassó, manager of Lola Casademunt, the big chains have got a hold on everything
16 June, 2010
The firm designs, manufactures and distributes fashion accessories and is exploring all possible avenues to ensure it will be ready for the evolution of the sector when the crisis comes to an end. This family business was founded almost 30 years ago.
Maite and Mar Gassó Casademunt, daughters of founder Lola Casademunt, manage this firm that manufactures costume jewellery and accessories such as handbags, belts, gloves and shawls. Their mother, however, is still the company’s chairwoman and responsible for approving any changes or decisions. She has passed on her experience and nose for business to them since they were little. Maite Gassó, the company’s manager, can now look back fondly on the days when everyone else was on holiday while their mother was finding them jobs to do. All that hard, continuous work may explain the innate strength that ensures them aware of what is going on at all times. As explained by Maite Gassó, this is what the current situation requires: “we have to get through this crisis and be ready for everything so we can react to market conditions”.
The economic situation has pushed small businesses under, and means they must be constantly on the lookout for the right formula to keep them in the game. “I don’t know what will be left for the market when Zara and their friends have taken everything for themselves”, she commented. “We’re all feeling the crisis but some of us will survive, albeit with losses, while some will go out of business”. This has forced them to rethink the way they do business, which has thus far rejected the franchise system. They believed this channel would be detrimental to their other, multi-brand channel, which has so far been their core business.
Another possibility they have been looking into is that of having their own stores. “When you go walk the street and see all the “For Sale” or “For Let” signs in the shops, it makes you think, but we are absolutely convinced the power is in point of sale”, she said. That’s why they are not ruling out the Internet, but the prices will be the same as those charges in stores because “we can’t spoil things for our clients”.
They share the work philosophy of the ant. These difficult times have forced them to be cautious and to concentrate on the Spanish market, where they have had a very comprehensive sales network for years, and where they believe there is a still a long way to go. Nevertheless, if international projects present themselves they will accept them. “When you have a lot of money you can make big investments, but this isn’t the time to be proactive. We only invest where we know the returns are guaranteed and in projects that come knocking at the door”. “We have a lot of things in the pipeline now. For example, we are taking the opportunity to engage brilliant talent that once worked for the competition but who have lost their jobs”.
The product will stay more or less the same for the moment. Although new garments are added every season, for the moment they are not launching new clothing collections or branching out beyond the accessories market.