In The New Fashion Retail Paradigm, I introduced the latest trends impacting the fashion retail industry. Headquarters location is an important one that deserves a deepest approach.
Amazon announced in november 2018, after a year-long competition, that New York City and Northern Virginia will host its second headquarters. This clearly illustrates how cities are competing to attract or keep talent, but also how companies need to strategically locate their headquarters to find the right people and ecosystem in the digital fashtech era.
Cities have competed historically for the ideological or economical power, shaped by factors like geography (e.g. relationship with oceans and terrain features) that act as natural borders as Robert Kaplan described in The Revenge of Geography (2012). Even if geography is still important, cities have evolved into brands leveraged by an ecosystem of assets like museums, top universities, entertainment activities, innovation hubs, infraestructures (ports, airports).
Resonance Consultancy published 2017 World´s Best City Brands Report, using a combination of statistical performance and qualitative evaluations by locals and visitors on social media in 20 areas grouped into 6 core categories: Place, Product, Programming, People, Prosperity and Promotion. The global top 10 city brands according the report are #1 London, #2 Singapore, #3 New York, #4 Paris, #5 Sydney, #6 Amsterdam, #7 Los Angeles, #8 Tokyo, #9 San Francisco and #10 Toronto. Will London remain the leading global city after Brexit?
Are your Headquarters in the right place?
Corporate headquarters are adapting to this new paradigm as Millennials have different values compared to the generation before. Quality of life and a better work-balance are a priority to them. Most of them won´t buy a car, want to commute less and desire an urban lifestyle. How can you sell fashion, art, creativity or innovate in the middle of an industrial park? Maybe the question is not how, but WHO would like to work there?
Will Nike relocate its headquarters from Portland or Inditex from Arteixo? In fact, Scott Galloway advises Nike to move its headquarter from Portland in his recent book FOUR. Many companies are having big issues to attract talent and it wouldn´t be surprising to see how they relocate their headquarters or at least, some of their departments. Cities are competing in knowledge, innovation, technology… and companies need to take part of these ecosystems aligned with social trends.
Barcelona Fashion Ecosystem
Barcelona is a good example of city with an important fashion industry ecosystem: Catalonia´s textile-industrial heritage, near-shore suppliers, good logistics and headquarters like Mango, Desigual, Pepe Jeans, Massimo Dutti… Also top Business Schools like IESE, ESADE and ISDI or innovations hubs like 22@ innovation district are contributing to reinforce the positioning of the city. Some of the headquarters mentioned are +30-60min away by car from Barcelona´s downtown but are already planning to get closer.
The customer experience, the storytelling, the inspiration, the business is nurtured by talent. Today, Headquarters´location is a key strategical asset. Where is your office?