Master's Thesis, 2011, 91 Pages
Table of Contents
List of Abbreviations
List of Figures
1.1 Way of posing the problem
1.2 Scientific and business objectives
1.3 Implemented methodologies, analytical tools
1.4 Review of essential concepts and definitions
2 Industry Analysis
2.1 Economical Situation Analysis
2.2 Segmentation within Europe
2.3 Trends in the world of fashion
2.4 Factors driving the industry change
2.5 Key Success Factors
3 Esprit Company Profile
3.1 Key Facts and Figures
3.2 Brand Enhancement
3.3 Sales Channel Optimization Factors
4 Analysis of the main competitors and their strategies
4.1 Performance Review of Major European Players
4.2 Corporate Business Strategy evaluation of selected competitors against Esprit
4.2.1 s.Oliver (SWOT, Financial Analysis, Portfolio Evaluation, Brand Performance)
4.2.2 ZARA (SWOT, Financial Analysis, Portfolio Evaluation, Brand Performance)
4.2.3 Esprit (SWOT, Financial Analysis, Portfolio Evaluation, Brand Performance)
5 Substantiated Recommendations
6 Conclusion and Perspectives
Esprit a fashion and lifestyle brand founded in 1968 in San Francisco, California and its potential to become the leader in the European fashion industry is examined beginning with general industry-related approaches and ending in a detailed competitor analysis. The business process within this industry differentiates between retail and wholesale channels, selling various division lines (clothing categories according to gender and age) mostly under heavy time and cost pressure. This is due to short fashion collection life cycles, high product variety depending on fashion trends and styles that come and go. ( ) The total European clothing market sizes amounts to 190.3 Billion Euro in 2009 from which the innovative vertical-integrated retail sellers like H&M or ZARA gain an increasing share. The high level of rivalry in the fashion market is characterized through approximately 60 main competitors forming the strongest competition in the middle and premium price segment. Sustainability, POS experience worlds and celebrity collections do represent the most important commercial fashion trends, whereas from the sales channel perspective online shops are the dominating turnover contributor in the future followed by flagship and outlet stores, both also having a strong growth potential. As online shops are having less costs of capital, providing a permanent order possibility, a quick reaction to market trends and a strong platform for international brand campaigns they belong to the leading key success factors (KSF) for the fashion industry. In a comprehensive grid display the most relevant KSFs in the areas of sales, skills and capability, marketing and distribution are presented. An additional fact files table regarding the timeframe, location and EBIT impact for the leading KSFs as licensing, flagship sores, non-aviation stores, e-commerce or multi-channel networks is specified. The Esprit group with its “double head” business management located in Hong Kong and Germany achieved a turnover of 3.1 Billion Euro in FY 08 09 leading to an operating profit of 570 Million Euro, through the selling of 174.000.000 pieces of clothes in around 800 owned retail POS locations and 14.000 wholesale POS locations out of the Esprit division portfolio which comprises 12 product divisions. Surprisingly Esprit is very depending on the European Market with 86 percent share of the total turnover followed by the Asia Pacific region with 12 percent.
Esprit indicates its three major future strategic business targets as “focus on selected markets”, “lean division management” and “fulfilment of customer needs” and the new group CEO Roland van der Vis declares “the brand as the companies greatest asset” in an interview. Within the Esprit corporate brand profile the three brand value competencies “newness and style”, smart and international outfitter and customer focus are disclosed, which are inherited and proven within a broad range of operative measures to increase sales figures and brand awareness.
However the competition is not always one step behind but often more than a step ahead, as the key performance indicators of H&M, s.Oliver, Benetton, ZARA and C&A do show up. From a financial view ZARA is in the lead in Europe with 7.07 Billion Euro, whereas H&M is very attractive for shareholders having paid a 2.17 Euro dividend per share and the Italian rival Benetton is ahead in country presence being represented in 120 countries. A more precise picture of the two selected competitors s.Oliver and ZARA is unfold with a SWOT and a financial performance analysis clearly indicating that s.Oliver with continuous, stable growth, a high equity capital quota and a smart and clever attraction of younger target groups with music sponsoring is by far the biggest competitor on the German market. ZARA the strongest chain brand of the Spanish Inditex Group with 1.359(!) ZARA retail stores in Europe only, is undisputedly the best practice model for “excellence in vertical integration” and the leading fashion brand offering luxury designer collection for affordable prices in Southern Europe.
The contender Esprit dominates the fashion region “Central Europe” and is best practice in online shops. Nevertheless there is room for improvement and strategic adjustments in sales, marketing and distribution processes to match new business opportunities in existing markets and new markets like Poland or Russia are necessary or strictly spoken unavoidable to achieve further growth in the future in order to fulfil Esprit’s entitlement: Europe is our fashion culture.
illustration not visible in this excerpt
Figure 1 - Implemented methodologies and analytical tools
Figure 2 - Number of households in selected European countries
Figure 3 - Fashion Sales Development German Market (April - October)
Figure 4 - Fashion Channel Sales Development (April - October)
Figure 5 - Shares Indices Development (April - October)
Figure 6 - Grid display of Major Key Success Factors for the fashion industry
Figure 7 - Turnover by core product divisions
Figure 8 - Management Summary Esprit Key Facts and Figures
Figure 9 - Hierarchy of Brands and Luxury
Figure 10 - Strategic Brand Value Competencies of Esprit
Figure 11 - Important Esprit Brand Identity Attributes
Figure 12 - Vertical Marketing Model: Factors for Esprit wholesale customers
Figure 13 - Comparative Market Positions of selected European Competitors
Figure 14 - SWOT Analysis for s.Oliver
Figure 15 - SWOT Analysis for ZARA
Figure 16 - Nine-Cell-Matrix for ZARA Country Markets in Germany, UK and France
Figure 17 - SWOT Analysis of Esprit
Figure 18 - Nine-Cell-Matrix for Esprit Country Markets in Germany, UK and France
Table 1 - Merchandise Trade for clothing in selected European countries
Table 2 - Fact files of Major Key Success Factors for the fashion industry
Table 3 - Brand Key Characteristic Comparison
Table 4 - Major Esprit Sales Channels in Europe
Table 5 - Specification of Major Esprit Sales Channels in Europe
Table 6 - Weighted Catalogue of Requirements for Esprit Franchise Partners
Table 7 - Key Performance Indicators of Major European Fashion Companies
Table 8 - Sales and Employee Figure Development of s.Oliver
Table 9 - Sales, Employee and Store Figure Development of ZARA
Table 10 - Sales, Employee and Store Figure Development of Esprit
The world of fashion is a restless one. As quickly as the seasons are changing, collections, trends, colours, materials and cuts are moving simultaneously and hence the whole industry is adapting business planning on this seasonal behaviour. However, in contrast to the simultaneity of season change and fashion world responses, there is a disparity in the behaviour of markets and customers. The customers, no matter in which country, are looking for diversity and find them in a wide range of fashion brands differentiating themselves through design, quality, price, promotion, customer service and shopping options. In Italy people have a different attitude to fashion, then in Ireland, the available budget for clothes in a Bulgarian household differs from the percentage of income spent on apparel in the United Kingdom, due to a much lower purchasing power in Bulgaria. How can a fashion company manage to cope with the interplay between concurrent internal processes and uneven, unexpected external developments? How can a fashion company position itself against competitors? The answer to these questions is found in strategic corporate management behaviour, implemented and described for the fashion and lifestyle brand Esprit. Aiming to become “a more consumer driven company”, ensuring customer needs above all, Esprit has defined its corporate brand DNA: The world is our culture!
Whether this statement has the qualification or classification of a real strategic vision seems to be doubtful, as according to strategic literature a vision “describes the route a company intends to take in developing and strengthening its business”. Therefore the corporate brand DNA of Esprit is in fact inspiring, but preciseness and future perspectives are missing. Nevertheless Esprit shows up with a great performance in recent years, convincing with a robust business model and is one of the big players in the fashion business, intending “to continue the fast growth track from the past”. Once again, as trends and seasons change, the conditions of the “growth track” will change as well, things will become different and the path will become stony, splashy or even icy. This is actually the point, where forward strategic thinking, profound analysing and evaluating pay off. It is true, that a brand is a company’s greatest asset, but without a clearly crafted, worked out and finally implemented strategy, even the strongest brand runs the risk of becoming “out of fashion”. Having run successfully through the strategy-making and executing process, consisting over a healthy pattern of finance, motivated employees under a powerful brand, enough space of innovation, everything is possible for a company in a rising industry sector. The leadership claim is already written down, though, the way to the top, is like a run way: long and carefully watched from internal and external supporters or opponents waiting to benefit from mistakes, or adapting new ideas and finally after having reached the leading edge the sweet moment of triumph could only last for one snapshot. In the European fashion industry the potential and the outlook for Esprit to become the leading brand are very positive but nevertheless there are challenges to fulfil this ambitious aim.
Generally spoken, in order to provide a suitable proposal or solution concept, it is first and foremost important, to be aware of the concrete challenge. In the fashion industry, as in most other industries there are internal, so-called home-made problems and also external ones, resulting from the outside environment. Consequently in order to identify the different challenges, companies often assign external business analysts or consultants to look at the performance of the firm or a certain division. Alternatively companies do their own analysis of competitors and market development. In the case of Esprit the challenge is to find out whether the company in its current “shape” is able to take over the leading position in the European fashion industry. Therefore the author will carry out two broad analysis, starting first with an examination of the overall industry conditions for the external part and then concentrate on the rather internal analysis and evaluation of the financial, brand management and portfolio performance of Esprit and some selected competitors as well as their strategies. In the next but one chapter the applied methodologies and implemented analytical tools are specified and shortly described. So, this academic research focuses on the business-related challenges of the lifestyle brand Esprit and does thereby also reveal internal production issues, new brand marketing measures, innovative sales-channel networks or promotion concepts either contributing or reducing the success of Esprit in Europe. Coming back to the minimized vision or strictly speaking the corporate brand DNA “the world is our culture”, this vision actually differs from the key challenge, namely to achieve the number one in Europe, in order to claim overall global success in the long run. Although Esprit according to its former Chairman and Group CEO Heinz Krogner is seeking “to continue our global footprint”, the European market is by far the strongest contributor to the total turnover with 86 percent, followed by the Asia Pacific region with at least 12 percent and North America the founding region of Esprit achieving only two percent of the total turnover in the year ended June 2009. These three figures demonstrate the relevance of the European market and they cover up the necessity of an on-growing sales management and brand marketing performance of Esprit in Europe, because the whole Esprit group depends on it.
The fundamental aim of a master thesis according to the information guidelines of the FOM is described as “scientific discussion of a certain subject which is also relevant for practical experience”. Accordingly, there are two areas of objectives directly educed from this definition: scientific and practical (business) orientated objectives. Starting with scientific targets the author would like to provide an elaborated internal and external analysis including a brand and portfolio performance assessment to finally evaluate the potential of “Esprit aiming to become the European leader in the fashion industry.” Secondly there are three rather formal sub targets, to ensure proper scientific working, listed below:
- Implementation of acknowledged analytical and research tools
- Delivery of measureable, comparable topic related results, key findings and recommendations
- Focusing on the European market as main investigation area
For the area of business related objectives there is the major key target to find out the strategic marketing and sales concepts as well as the operative measures which outclass Esprit to the competition. Additionally, for the area of fashion industry trends and tendencies, there are three questions also forming goals for this master thesis:
Which growth options and business opportunities in the fashion industry can be discovered for the middle market segment in Europe? Which division lines or market segments do develop most strongly within the fashion industry?
What are essential brand USPs of leading fashion brands in relation to sales increase and future industry developments?
Within the conclusion of the comparative analysis section (cp. 4.2.3) the target fulfilment of the practical (business) related objectives are presented. The overall scientific aim, regarding the “European leadership potential” evaluation of Esprit is presented in the recommendation section.
In order to find out about growth opportunities, market developments, pace of rivalry and brand efficiency in the fashion industry and also in order to draw pictures of future scenarios of fashion companies and thereby provide a profound and valid source of information for business investors, analytical and performance measurement tools are indispensable. Consequently, from the broad range of various more or less sophisticated tools, the author has singled out these ones, being most applicable for the fashion industry and at the same timing focusing on financial, sales, distribution or brand marketing power either for a single company or the whole industry. The following figure shows up with an overview of the implemented tools, analysis and matrixes, and concurrently it reveals their interrelations in an overall context of all implemented methodologies.
illustration not visible in this excerpt
Figure 1: Implemented methodologies and analytical tools
Source: Author’s own research and design
In addition, the author also provides direct “personnel related” information with abstracts from an interview conducted with an Esprit store manager. Beyond that, filled out questionnaires from various industry experts serve to picture out about trends and tendencies in the retail fashion industry and to find out advantages of the stationary merchandise or the most important resorts influencing the world of fashion. Furthermore all presented and analyzed data relating to the company performance of the Esprit group are taken from the “Annual Report FY 08|09”. To sum up, the predominantly analytical tools for performance evaluation combined with all kinds practical references are completed with articles from the fashion business found in expert literature or online media.
The last chapter of the introductory part can be characterized as the “fashion expressions for non-fashioners” section. This results from the fact, that in order to better understand and match interactions and dependencies inside the fashion industry, it is recommended to be aware and familiar with common expressions, standardized abbreviations and typical “industry insider” vocabulary. In order to structure this review of fundamental definitions part three different categories are build and for each a short glossary of most important terms is allegorized. The first category lists up some abbreviations in common use of the fashion industry describing fashion products lines according to gender and age.
a) Fashion Division lines
HAKA: is the abbreviation for the German expression “Herren Anzüge Knaben Anzüge”. From a commercial perspective, suits and other fashion for men is synonymous for HAKA, which is further differentiated between classical HAKA and articles for men, comprising also accessories.
DOB: is the abbreviation for the German expression “Damen-Ober-Bekleidung”, which clearly comprises all clothes for women except lingerie and stockings. KIKO: is the abbreviation for the German expression “Kinder-Konfektion” and does imply all sorts of clothes for kids.
YF: is the abbreviation for the fashion product line “Young Fashion”, which comprises fashion items for teens and tens. However transitions and boundaries towards the DOB or KIKO are floating.
As in many other industries like the electrical or the FMCG industry, also in the fashion business there are two distribution channels shaping the buying and selling behaviour on the markets. The following categories list up a glossary of terms for the retail and the wholesale channels.
b) Retail Channels
Mega store: large store type, situated in prominent shopping areas, offering nearly complete product lines from all fashion divisions, even accessories or shoes Flagship store: large store type, but smaller than a mega store, also located in prominent shopping areas, offering a wide range of product lines Satellite store: regular-sized store, often positioned around mega or flagship stores, offering a selection of product lines and some licensed products Town store: regular-sized store, but smaller than a satellite store, no offering of licensed products Outlet store: positioned in the vicinity of major shopping areas and towns, offering outlet-focused product lines and also early season clothes at lower prices Concession stores: retail stores included in a big department store for example “Riem Arkaden” in Munich or “Alster Arkaden” in Hamburg, offering selected product lines E-shop: online-store, sometimes offering identical product lines as stationary stores, but often differentiating with special product lines “only online available” or “online collections”.
c) Wholesale Channels
Franchise stores: stand-alone stores managed by local retail partners (franchisees), paying for the investment, but achieve major support from the responsible fashion brand company
Shop-in-stores (SIS): small and controlled wholesale space, found in big stores which invested in the space and achieve support from the responsible fashion brand company
Identity corners (IC): small “corner space” in department stores besides many different fashion brands offering a limited range of their products, maximum of three collections
Multi-label retailers: retails stores, shops or boutiques offering multiple brands and fashion labels, differentiating only through fixtures and signage Wholesale sales: selling of fashion product lines in closed (private) showrooms, to various third-party wholesale customers
Country distributors: exclusive selling and distribution of fashion product lines, popular in assorted countries with non-established retail and wholesale systems
In addition there are a few selected standardized terms in the fashion industry:
NOS: is the abbreviation for the English expression “never out of stock” which can be translated as a “Niemals Null Bestand” in German. The range of NOS products is essential and should be available at any time in stationary stores. Sometimes companies also call a collection “a NOS collection”, when it comprises a lot of ageless, essential basic piece of clothes.
FOB: is the common abbreviation for the commercial delivery term “free on board”. In the fashion industry an own and increasing FOB channel is established, concentrating on trading with countries in Asia where most fashion companies are delivering and exporting their product lines FOB and thereby handling over full responsibility for the retail sales to the Asian buyer.
Within the industry analysis the author will closely examine various external and internal factors, conditions and circumstances that are shaping the European fashion industry. Beginning with a picture of the economic status quo of this traditional industry in Europe, followed by a short segmentation abstract in which the German market is confronted to the whole European market. Then a detailed trend examination of expanding commercial measures and distribution channels is done. The last two sub chapters are about identification, description and assessment of the “drivers of change” and the “key success factors”.
In conclusion, these listed analytical steps, which are taking a profound look at all the factors and forces that are influencing and creating this macro environment, will amount to a clear and meaningful description the external environment of Esprit.
All relevant economic and fashion industry related key data is now listed up and quickly analyzed in the four major categories of market size and growth rate, number of buyers, number of rivals and scope of competitive rivalry. The latter one is more closely highlighted in chapter four with the major competitor analysis of course. To sum up all findings a management overview with the most important key data is presented.
Market Size and Growth Rate:
From a global perspective the fashion and textile industry is one of the worldwide most important sectors with regards to investment, sales, trade, employment for various generations. In addition the industry is characterized through
- short product life cycles
- enormous product variety
- fluctuating and unpredictable demands leading to
- long and inflexible processes.
Focusing on the European market the growth expectations or prophecies are depending on the financial and economical well-being or stability of the six biggest European member states. (cp. figure 2)
However for the past three years the total clothing market size, and the growth rates including a subdivision into export and import shares, the data is as follows:
illustration not visible in this excerpt
Source: Based on the findings of the WTO
The author has used the conversion rate from US dollar to the Euro: 1,35 $ = 1 € in order to avoid currency fluctuations and present comparable data. In addition besides the growth rates of the total European fashion industry, the global luxury fashion segment is amounting to 25 percent of the total market size with 47,1 Billion Euro in 2008 and increasing growth expectations for the future.
Number of Buyers
Approaching this industry characteristic item from a historical position, the level of primary needs according to “Abraham Maslows Needs Hierarchy Pyramid” of 1954 does implement physiological needs and body needs. Consequently clothing can be considered as a body need within the industrialized, modern and highly-competitive European population. Subsequently, the number of buyers on the European B2C market is extremely high and rather uncountable because there do belong all citizens of the European population legally authorized to and equipped with or possessing buying power to this group. And also all tourists visiting Europe or business visitors on their business trips from the rest of the world are forming a stable and rather increasing “target group” on the European fashion market as well. As a last aspect, due to the global trend of digitalisation and worldwide connectivity the B2C customers who are searching for and ordering their clothing on “the electronic fashion market place” in the internet are also part of the number of buyers, and the risk of counting them twice is possible. For the B2B customers, operating in the wholesale and retail business networks a clear “concentration development process” is leading to a stronger position of less but bigger vertical trade or clothing chains like Otto, Metro, C&A, El Corte Ingles, Cortefiel or Selfridges. Patrick Aspers a scientist working at the Max Planck Institute for Society Research (MPIfG) dramatizes the role of big fashion trade chains by “donating them the biggest power in the market resulting from their financial power. Finally it can be summarized, that there have been and always will be a huge number of end consumers in the fashion industry sector in Europe- the percentage from stationary to online buyers will shift more to the latter in the next years and the leading group of big fashion trade chains will gain more and more power and influence thereby.
Number of Rivals and Scope of Competitive Rivalry:
The fashion market in Europe is dominated by round about sixty distributed and promoted European competitors ranging from the valuable luxury and upper market brands like Gucci, Dior, Prada, Barbour or Hermès over middle-market brands such as Benetton, Calvin Klein, Tom Tailor and Esprit to the clear low- budget fashion brand companies such as KIK, Madonna and TJ Maxx. The following interesting chart which puts the affinity level of luxury brand buyers and (middle) brand buyers together, based on a survey among customers aged 20 to 69 from 2008 is also useful as an overview of most of the competing fashion brands in Europe and their competitive rivalry. In order to visualize the strength of the rivalry activities among all competitors in the market the author has placed four “colour pools” on the figure which symbolize different stages. Yellow Pool: Less pool members, within this group are forming the vain and prestigious group with a lower but very expensive stage of rivalry activities. This means that they all have a similar consumer target group which unfortunately is loyal within the pool but not brand loyal, hence high spending for spectacular advertising campaigns and fashion couture events is necessary to be talk of town in the adequate media channels.
Blue Pool: Very small number of mostly British pool members, with a very long brand history and also very loyal customers. This means a low level of competitive rivalry.
Red Pool: The biggest pool which can be characterized as a melting pot of stylish, extroverted rather premium focused fashion brands fighting on a high an intensive level to win a big number of undecided European customers each season again for their collections. Especially for the left half of the pool there is a high rivalry in terms of store presence in European metropolitans.
Green Pool: A small pool of premium brands who have a stable, loyal customer group, having a low level of rivalry and can focus on brand image campaigns.
illustration not visible in this excerpt
Source: FOCUS-Studie Communication Networks, (2009)
To sum up, the fashion market in Europe has the following key data:
illustration not visible in this excerpt
These above listed key data are typically used to characterize many kinds of worldwide economical markets. But for the purpose of giving more precise strategic and operative recommendations in the final chapters it is wise to go for a further segmentation approach and look out for segmentation criteria and their developments in Europe.
Before starting to analyse, expand into and then conquer any kind of market or market segment, it is recommended to get an overview about the market segmentation and the handling of the market. As segmentation can be done in various ways, with invoking various segmentation criteria at different levels of intensity, the author has chosen to do a geographic segmentation for the European fashion market as a whole, followed by a deeper geographic segmentation of the German market. This does result from the fact, that Germany with approx. 36 million households having the highest number of households within Europe, hence having most buying power and therefore is the most important market for fashion companies. The following figure explicitly visualises the six dominating European markets, Spain, United Kingdom, France, Portugal and Poland, each above the average value of seven million households. As Russia does not belong in total to the European Market, it is not considered in the column diagram below and a “universe of 183 households” is estimated.
illustration not visible in this excerpt
Figure 2: Number of households in selected European countries
Source: Authors own design based on the findings of Ipsos (2010)
a) Geographic Segmentation: European fashion market
Europe as a whole is more a clothing importing than exporting continent, as the following table, documenting the merchandise trade for 2009 is showing.
Table 1: Merchandise Trade for clothing in selected European countries
illustration not visible in this excerpt
Source: Official Statistical Program Output, WTO (2010)
Except for the low-wage production in Portugal all leading European markets do import more clothing than they export, which logically leads to higher sales for fashion companies in the respective home market. Interestingly the UK, with the fashion metropolis London is having the smallest home production quota with only 24 percent and imports more than 75 percent of clothing.
Finally when taking a look at leading clothing sellers which are consequently acting as “exporters” from their production and manufacturing sites in India, China, Eastern Europe, it becomes obvious that Italian, French and American fashion holdings are dominating the European market.
 Annual Report FY 08|09 (2009), p.19
 Annual Report FY 08|09 (2009), p.29
 Thompson et. Al. (2008), p.20
 Annual Report FY 08|09 (2009), p.21
 Annual Report FY08|09 (2009), p.19
 Compare: Annual Report FY08|09 (2009), p.13
 Information Master Thesis (2010), p.3
 Compare: http://www.esprit.com/index.php?command=Display&navi_id=2149&WYSESSID=04qa7be01ts34i3leps0v187g3# [Accessed December 7th 2010]
 Compare: http://www.fashion-base.de/Modelexikon/haka.htm [Accessed December 11 2010]
 Compare: http://www.fashion-base.de/Modelexikon/dob.htm [Accessed December 11 2010]
 Compare: http://www.fashion-base.de/Modelexikon/kiko.htm [Accessed December 11 2010]
 Compare: http://www.fashion-base.de/Modelexikon/young-fashion.htm [Accessed December 11 2010]
 Compare: Textilwirtschaft Nr. 34, p. 43 (2010)
 Compare: http://www.fashionproducts.com/fashion-apparel-overview.html [Accessed November 21 2010]
 Compare: http://stat.wto.org/StatisticalProgram/WSDBViewData.aspx?Language=E [Accessed November 15 2010]
 Compare: Focus Studie Communications Network (2009), p.13
 Compare: Aspers, P. (2010), p.71
 Compare: Weis, (2001), p.83
 Compare: Ipsos (2010)
 http://stat.wto.org/StatisticalProgram/WSDBViewData.aspx?Language=E [Accessed November 15th 2010]
Term Paper, 39 Pages
Seminar Paper, 23 Pages
Master's Thesis, 54 Pages
Bachelor Thesis, 69 Pages
Term Paper, 39 Pages
Bachelor Thesis, 69 Pages
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