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Crumpler gears up for expansion on explosive growth

crumplerCrumpler CEO Adam Wilkinson is having a good start to the financial year.

As the broader retail sector prepares for a difficult earnings season amid continually tough trading conditions, the longstanding Australian bag brand is expanding both locally and abroad.

Having just opened space on Perth’s Hay Street Mall, the retailer will open its fourth Sydney store at the Galeries on George St on Thursday, bringing its total portfolio to 25, including six stores in Singapore and flagship locations in Thailand and Malaysia.

Another store in Kuala Lumpur next week will bring that total to 26, with negotiations underway with partners in Indonesia about the possibility of a bricks-and-mortar operation there.

Expansion isn’t cheap, but Wilkinson, who was brought over from PAS Group owned Designworks in March, has reason to be optimistic.

Like-for-like sales growth has spiked to 54.3 per cent in the first month of FY18, compounding an already impressive 17.4 per cent like-for-like result last year, including international growth of 20 per cent.

Wilkinson told Inside Retail that a CBD flagship focused local portfolio that remains poised to take advantage of growing discretionary spending in Southeast Asia, as well as improved stock planning and increased marketing spend was paying off.

“We’re looking for flagship locations, our brand always works around these CBD stores, so something like The Galeries is a perfect fit, giving us a mix of local customers as well as travellers,” he said.

Omnichannel represents the company’s largest investment at the moment, with online sales growing 43 per cent in FY17 as Chinese consumers show out in force for the brand.

Wilkinson said the increasing prevalence tourists visiting Australian stores and initial experiments with Alibaba’s Tmall platform had demonstrated demand for Crumpler’s bags in China, but that finding the right partner to enter the market with stores was taking time.

It’s a compelling offer for China’s growing middle class, with an average price point of around $110 to $120 cementing it as affordable Australian quality among both foreign and local shoppers.

Crumpler’s latest collection, which will launch alongside the new store on Thursday, has been designed with a slightly lower $100 price point in mind after a review was conducted into pricing architecture.

“We’re very focused on ensuring that we have a competitive offer, but at the same time we try to be a lot more consistent with our price point,” Wilkinson said, noting that the new range will stand-up at full retail price in a market plagued by continuous discounting.

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