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The European Market for Women's Lingerie
published in Issue 123, May-June 2006
The West European market for women’s lingerie—comprising bras, briefs and other products such as bodies, teddies, bustiers, camisoles and corsetry—was worth an estimated US$11.27 bn at retail level in 2005. Germany has the largest national lingerie market in the region, followed by Italy, the UK, France, and Spain.
Bras accounted for 56% of the total value of the lingerie market in 2005 while the market for briefs represented 29%. However, the high value share of bras reflects the fact their average price, at US$17.58 per item, was several times that of briefs, at US$3.60. In volume terms briefs dominate the market.
The market has performed sluggishly since the mid-1990s. Over the 11 years between 1994 and 2005, consumption of bras per woman in Western Europe rose by only 13% in volume terms while that of briefs increased by a mere 12%. Moreover, slow growth is expected to continue between 2005 and 2012. Against this background, there has been a flurry of merger and acquisition activity, culminating with the divestment by Sara Lee of its European branded intimate apparel business to Dim Branded Apparel (DBA) in February 2006 and its UK-based Courtaulds private label apparel business in May 2006.
For the future, the prospects for brands in the bra business appear reasonable. But the briefs market is becoming intensely competitive as sales of multipacks in supermarkets exert downward price pressure on suppliers and other retailers. The prospects for the briefs category would therefore appear to be tough.
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