Corona closes iconic French clothing retailer

French clothing retailer Tati is forced to close its last store due to the fallout from the coronavirus, fierce competition and changing consumer habits. This signals the end of the iconic pink and white checkered patterns.

Lost the war

Tati’s owner GPG had already made deep cuts to the store network, which once had more than 100 stores, but promised to at least keep the original store next to the famous Sacred Heart Church. Despite that promise, the owner has now admitted defeat as he was forced to reveal that October-May sales fell almost two-thirds from the previous year.

Yohann Petiot of the Alliance du Commerce (the French alliance of clothing and footwear retailers) comments in The Guardian that there is several reasons for the disappearance: while consumers have changed their habits and aggressive competitors have emerged, the latest blow has come from the succession of demonstrations by yellow vests, transport strikes and now measures against the spread of Covid-19.

First discounter

Tati, which is considered the first French clothing discounter, was founded in 1948 by Tunisian immigrant Jules Ouaki. Its noticeably low prices made the store a big hit, but at first many customers were still ashamed to be seen with its iconic pink and white checkered bags. That all changed when movie stars and other celebrities started using the bags as a fashion statement, causing Tati’s popularity to skyrocket.

The arrival of foreign giants like H&M and Primark made the situation difficult for the French chain, which was acquired by the Eram group in 2004. A decade later, GPG bought the chain, becoming its very last owner.

Anne G. Cash

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