The next foreign brands set to go big in Australia
If the influx of stores like Uniqlo and H&M are any indication, Australia’s lust for foreign retail wares won’t be abating any time soon.
But who’s coming next?
Colliers International’s Australian head of retail Michael Bate says there are a host of overseas brands ready to set up shop in Australia, some of which are already in the process of establishing a presence here.
Technically, British retailer Debenhams is already here, having opened a store in Melbourne in September.
The company initially tested the waters by selling some of its products through Harris Scarfe, before launching in Melbourne.
But Bate says the company has bigger things planned for Australia.
“Debenhams have confirmed that they want to be here in a big way and are now currently negotiating for sites in Perth and in Sydney, on the back of their foray into Melbourne,” he says.
“What Debenhams have decided to do, their ideal size is only about 4000sqm but the brands they’ll carry are typically the house brands that you would find if you walked into Debenhams in Oxford St in London.”
“They’re going to have a point of difference, rather than going head to head with Myer or David Jones.”
Marks and Spencer
Another British department store, Marks and Spencer, has gauged the Australian market by opening dedicated local online store, and the time could be right for the famed label to take the next step and open physical outlets.
“We spoke to them six months ago now, (t0) their global head of expansion,” Bate says.
“They’re very nervous about coming into the Australian market on two fronts: number one, there’s only 24 million of us … and of course we’re so spread out, so it would be an interesting business case for them to come into our market on the back of that.”
“But they have taken notice of what Debenham’s have done, so I think we’ll see some action from them.”
Bate says the Marks and Spencer licence for Australia is held by Singapore’s Royal Sporting House, and believes Marks and Spencer may potentially seek a higher-end licensee before embarking on an Australian expansion.
Japanese brand Isetan must have salivated while watching Uniqlo’s wild success in Australia.
The company, owned and operated by Singaporean retail giant Robinson’s, currently has all of its stores inside south-east Asia, but Bate says the Australian market would be a logical next step.
“If they came in here that would be another fabulous coup for Australia, because they are a great point of difference. Their branding and their marketing is just superb,” he says.
“They carry a very niche range of clothing, footwear, a small amount of homewares. They’re mulling over the Australian market as we speak. Their biggest challenge will be trying to find a decent footprint to put themselves into.”
Bate predicts Isetan isn’t far away from staking a claim in Australia.
“On the back of … the existing two department stores (Myer and David Jones) scaling down, I think they’ll be here sooner rather than later. I just think that the timing is perfect for them as David Jones and Myer continue to shrink their footprints and … Target, Kmart and Big W bash each other up to see who’s going to be the last man standing.”
Sydneysiders would already recognise POCO’s distinctive yellow and red signage, with the brand currently operating stores at Bankstown and the Crossroads Homemaker Centre.
The German homewares and furniture store was bought by Steinhoff International, which owns brands including Freedom Furniture and Snooze, and could be set for rapid growth across Australia.
Bate says POCO is currently eyeing off potential sites in Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales.
“They’ve got it right, so they’ve now decided to launch those stores in a big way,” he says.
“They’re anther group that will also look at CBD locations. Their challenge will be finding suitably sized boxes (stores).”