We interviewed the head of retail sector at Grup Galceran, Héctor Arjona

July 21, 2020

"The formula for success in retail is that the customer leaves the store with a bag full of desire to return to it"

Héctor Arjona began his professional career more than 20 years ago in the first Disney store in Spain, in L’illa. It was there that he began to learn about customer service and learning about the public's exceeding expectations. After working for 4 years with Disney, he made the change to Hard Rock Café for 3 years, where he specialized in retail, restaurant operations, and marketing. Attending the concerts they did with Los 40 Principales for the brand, arose the opportunity to work for the radio station Cadena SER's marketing department. He soon missed the contact with the consumer and finally ended up going back to his origins. In 2002, the first Nike store in Ramblas opened with Jordi Galceran, "There I started the adventure in this house, together with Gina Delgado. Both of us worked together since the beginning".

We spoke with him so he could tell us about his retail experience. 

1. Let's begin, although by now we already know what retail is, how would you define it?

Putting together a place and people who create a shopping experience which adds an extra value to the product. This is what makes a nowadays consumer prefer to move around and spend time coming to buy in a store rather than online.

2. You have been in Grup Galceran retail for more than 15 years, how has this department changed during your career? 

The company has become more professional, initially, we had 3 stores and a small team that did everything. We have been growing, learning, and specializing each one in what we do better.  The world of retail itself and the stores, and obviously the thing that has changed is that before, the online competitor did not exist as it does now. 

The arrival of these competitors has meant that we have to renovate ourselves as a company and in the processes that we offer the consumer so that it is worth going to the stores.

The market has also changed, but the brands, luckily for us, still see the mono-brand stores of their brand as the most important.

In general, we could say that there is more distribution competition and that the market is more demanding, in which, the consumer also expects more from us because they have more options to buy.

In the office, we have grown and have specialized in different professional sectors. We have also been incorporating new departments, for example, the marketing department that until now we had left fully in the hands of the brands itself. 

From Grup Galceran we help brands adapt their global marketing to the local market which we know so much from experience. Also, we will from now on try to reach online sales with some of the brands and this will give us the option of needing people with specific knowledge in e-commerce.

3. Grup Galceran has been managing powerful international brands for 20 years, Héctor, is there any formula for success? 

There is a fairly simple formula: in Grup Galceran stores must be transparent, which means, we don't have to be visible to the consumer. International brands trust us because those who visit our stores think that they are buying in their own brand stores.

In this way, brands are having our help without suffering something that could be one of the problems of the franchise world: when you give the brand to someone and this someone does not care enough about your image and values. 

If we talk about consumers, the formula for success is summarized in a simpler sentence: do with customers what you need to make them want to return. I always say, my philosophy of acting in front of a consumer: "do everything you need so that the consumer wants to see you again".

4. In your career, Grup Galceran has mainly focused on the retail of clothing brands. Could you manage other sectors? 

Yes, in fact right now we are evaluating the option of working with other brands in the sector other than textiles, there are options and opportunities. We are not a team that only understands fashion or textiles, but we understand management, customer service and we believe that this is easily replicable to other sectors. The important thing is that you know the brand, the values, and the product well. Once this is internalized, and the team that will be in charge of the project, it is easy to adapt it.

5. We are almost finished, but we need to ask you about the future, how do you imagine retail in 10 years? Physical stores will continue to coexist with e-commerce, other personalized purchase formats will emerge, tell us about it.

They will live together but will be much more integrated than how the two channels are today. Now the differences are still noticeable and the consumer has to decide between buying online and offline. In 10 years this will not be noticed and we will continue shopping as before, moving trough a website regardless of whether the product is physically there or in a warehouse further away because we will end up receiving it at your house the next day.

It is true that the physical retail points will be more specialized, they will as well be reduced and will offer much more intense experiences, but in more localized points.

There are many advantages to the act of visiting a store: they advise you, you can try the product or learn first-hand experiences of the staff and customers who have used the product. We love to spend time living experiences: the music, the words, the atmosphere, the shopping process, all of this attracts our attention. There are certain products in which we like to spend time and share the experience with people around you.

6. The unavoidable question, regarding the involvement of the Covid-19, what is the behavior of the consumer in the store? 

The consumer is being very respectful of the hygiene and safety rules at the stores. It is also true that we have a team of people with many skills when it comes to communicating with the customer, and they immediately turn the situation around; with some half-joking or others more serious, but there are only a few customers who do not want to follow the rules. 

In stores, we manage to create a very high trust environment. At Nike specifically, we have valuation surveys, and they have given us very high security and comfort sensations. Lately, we are noticing that there is much more return of products purchased online during confinement.

Considering the volume of visits in stores, it has been reduced considerably, especially in tourist areas, but on the other hand, we have noticed that those who come have a much higher purchase intention. The conversion of visits to buyers is the highest we have seen in a long time in stores.

7. And… can you tell us something about the immediate future of Grup Galceran? 

Yes, we have an agreement signed and about to open a store for an international American fashion brand. We are very happy and proud to have achieved this agreement, but not yet I cannot reveal it to you.  

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