Interview Rainer Döpfer
Mr Döpfer, for many years you have been in charge of the “Russian Fashion Retail Forum” seminar program during CPM. Could you please briefly describe your work.
To be more precise I have been responsible since February 2008 as coordinator for the “Russian Fashion Retail Forum” (RFRF) integrated in the CPM. The target group for the seminar programs was always people from Russia and the CIS states, who are professionally involved with the respective current development of the fashion market, especially the independent, multi-brand clothing retail. Right from the start, I placed emphasis on having Russian partners involved in the conceptualization and staging of the RFRF/RLMF (“Russian Lingerie Retail Forum”), because Russian experts from the fashion sector frequently see this quite differently from Western analysts. Since September 2012, fashion retail publishers PROfashion along with the leading fashion consultants in Russia, the Fashion Consulting Group (FCG), have emerged as the RFRF’s partners, both as “pro bono“ event partners, which means that they do not charge IGEDO any fees for services rendered within the scope of the RFRF.
When you are not taking care of the Russian Fashion Retail Forum, what are you doing?
One of my other tasks is conducting the so-called “briefing of the international guest journalists” – based on my long-standing, sector-specific market research – who visit CPM at the invitation of IGEDO. To this end, I prepare in each case a press dossier of up to 20 pages in English, in which I present and explain the current market trend using texts, tables and diagrams. Before and after CPM, I always receive enquiries and requests for interviews from leading German, Russian, European and international Internet portals or fashion journals, asking me about the current trends in the Russian fashion market (recent enquiries received from: TW, Fashion Today, WWD-USA).
Moreover, as commissioned by IGEDO, as of this year for the first time, on the first day of the fair, I will be conducting an exhibitor seminar at CPM. Here the focus is on how a foreign supplier can effect cost-optimized delivery of the seasonal pre-orders placed by their Russian customers faster, more reliably and in compliance with the legal Russian import conditions in the form of more frequent partial shipments. In this connection, we will be presenting a completely newly developed, so-called DDP-POOL (delivery and duty paid) process, which is particularly tailored to the requirements of small and medium-sized suppliers.
You are regarded as a connoisseur of the Russian market. How did this come about?
Yes, you can certainly say that! At the beginning of the 90s I ended up in Russia. Together with the exhibition-implementation company M&A OHC and LENEXPO, in 1991 I staged a first fashion retail fair for end-consumers on behalf of 30 German clothing companies in St. Petersburg. An absolute adventure! Word got round about it as far as Moscow, from where in 1993 CROCUS INTERNATIONAL with its then US partner, COMTEK INTERNATIONAL, then approached me with a view to staging the first Western fashion trade fair MODA MOSCOW in September 1994 and, as a European Coordinator, beginning with the integration of national and European company pavilion presentations in the fair.
At that time you were involved to a key extent in the founding of CPM. Can you describe the process to us.
Yes, that’s correct. Everything happened very quickly at that time. In those days, as today, I was observing the Russian market very precisely and the developments allowed a new fashion fair to be established at the Moscow location. As a result, I made contact with the Igedo Company/Messe Düsseldorf and conducted consulting activities. In 2003, the first CPM event was then held at the Expocentre.
What is your assessment of the future developments on the Russian market?
The future development on the Russian fashion market gives rise to many questions, which will be dependent on both influential political as well as economic factors.
It is a matter of the future trend in world market oil and gas product prices as well as other raw material products, which account for over 50% of Russian exporters’ USD income. The dramatic price collapse in these areas is the basic problem behind the increasingly worsening results and performance of the Russian economy. On top of this there are the effects of the Western sanctions imposed on persons, the specific export bans on technical goods and the blocking of Russian banks’ borrowing on the Western capital markets. All this combined has a negative effect on the mood of the consumers and, as a result, also on purchasing behaviour in the clothing and shoe sectors. Nevertheless, they are all benefiting from the reduction in rents of up to 30% as well as the fact that the rents are charged in Rubels and no longer linked to the USD.
All in all, despite this, there are predominantly outstanding conditions for investing in the Russian fashion retail market and extending market presence in the medium to long term. It is now time to position ourselves in a strategically correct way towards the Russian fashion market and provide a counterbalance to the excessive market power of the clothing chains and online fashion suppliers. To this end, there are proven alternative entrepreneurial measures, which must be implemented and become reality in 2016.