Founded in 1984 as a single store in Los Angeles, Forever 21 is currently a phenomenon in the fashion world. Internationally, the company has upwards of 500 stores, mostly in the U.S., but also in Canada, Japan, Korea, the Middle East, and the Philippines. In late 2010 it established stores in the UK and Ireland. Early in 2011 Forever 21 plans to expand into Austria, Belgium, and Spain. Annual revenue is about $2.6 billion world-wide.
"Our primary focus is merchandise and apparel for fashion-conscious young women--from the early teens through the 30s--maybe even early 40s," say Young Kwon, General Counsel for Forever 21 in the Los Angeles headquarters. "We feature a constant flow of fashion forward, fun and creative clothing designs and accessories at affordable prices. We've also added apparel and shoes for men. We have expanded our merchandise line over the years to accommodate the various demographic segments of our customers. We hope to continue our success as we expand our presence in Europe."
The Netherlands will play a large role in that expansion. Early in 2010 Forever 21 established its European Headquarters in Breda, which serves as a robust backbone for administrative functions, including accounting, IT, and an online call center. "This operation is still in its developmental stages and will keep evolving as needed," says Kwon. He adds that the company’s European distribution center is also based in the Netherlands in Bergen op Zoom. This operation delivers to the European stores as well as the online web shop, launched in February of 2011.
"From our research we understood that Netherlands was one of the key countries where many international companies have settled their headquarters and logistics," says Kwon. "It's a centralized location within the European community. Among other advantages, the Netherlands workforce is multi-lingual which is a key component in effective communication with the employees in the various retail locations throughout Europe, as well as ensuring that we provide quality service to our e-commerce customers as we continue to build our customer base in Europe," he says. "In making this decision we were of course mindful of the benefits offered by the Netherlands in the areas of duties, taxes and other business matters."
"We're very grateful to the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency, which walked us through the steps necessary to establish our presence in Europe," says Kwon. “The NFIA helped us get acquainted with what we could expect during our entry process and facilitated setting up meetings with government personnel."