Crumpler gets serious about Southeast Asia

Melbourne-based bag retailer Crumpler has been slowly expanding through Southeast Asia over the last 18 months, finding and signing deals with local distribution partners and growing its brand presence. 

Over 30 per cent of its total revenue currently comes from the region, where it operates its stores in Singapore and Malaysia and has a wholesale business. And with the launch of its first store in the Philippines last week, it expects the region to account for closer to 50 per cent of its total business in the future. 

According to Crumpler chief executive Adam Wilkinson, the brand’s success in the region has been driven predominantly by its ability to find key distribution partners throughout Southeast Asia and mainland China.

“In the past the business has had a lot smaller distribution partners that have been fantastic, and very passionate, but haven’t always had the ability to roll out their own retail stores or didn’t have the relationship with department stores to open up pop-up or concession stores,” Wilkinson told Inside Retail Weekly

“Over the last two years, we’ve found partners that are already representing brands that are of a similar calibre to ours, and have the financial ability and the network to open these stores.”

This approach led to the launch of the bag retailer’s first permanent store in Manilla recently, which features a new store concept that so far is exclusive to Southeast Asia. The first store with this design opened in Singapore about a year ago.

While the store is still new, the business already has plans to open a second, smaller store within the next two months.

Much of this is due to the strength of the region, which is outperforming Crumpler’s Australian business, which Wilkinson believes has hit a saturation point. 

“Our retail stores in Singapore and Malaysia are outperforming Australian retail at the moment,” Wilkinson said. 

“We’re still fortunate that we’re hitting like-for-like sales growth in our Australian retail, which is encouraging in a tough market, [but] we think we’re pretty close to a saturation point. 

“We currently have 18 doors in Australia, and we don’t foresee needing many more to service our customer base.”

However this doesn’t mean the brand is neglecting its home market, with plans to increase its online presence, which currently accounts for about 15 per cent of total revenue, and introduce new features, such as click-and-collect, due to arrive before Christmas. 

A birthday of Olympic proportions

The next few years will see Crumpler focus on expanding in Southeast Asia and entering new markets, such as Canada, with 2020 set to be a very exciting year for the brand.

“We’re hitting the 25-year anniversary of the brand next year, so we’ll be doing some fun events to celebrate the brand, and also re-release some of our classic designs,” Wilkinson said.

“We’re working with the Australian Open again to set up a store in the Australian Open grounds. And then the other big one we have is our sponsorship with the Australian Olympic committee.

“Four hundred and eighty athletes will be using custom-designed Crumpler hard-cases. We’ll be releasing a version of that product in our retail stores, but also working with our distributors in terms of marketing the brand over there next year in line with the Olympics and the exposure we’ll get in Tokyo, which is really exciting.”

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