The heritage name said it has taken a deliberate shift away from the traditional department store format in Australia and will offer exclusive brands in a small-format layout – across two storeys and 3600sqm – which represents a new concept specifically developed for the Australian market and draws on over two centuries of experience.
“Debenhams St Collins Lane is not a traditional department store – it is a new destination for the contemporary customer in Australia,” said Graham Dean, managing director of Debenhams Australia.
“Our research shows that a Debenhams customer wants to not only enjoy the latest seasonal trends, but find the right item at the right time, and always have our store at their fingertips.
“They are also frustrated by traditional department stores with limited assistance on the floor, confusing layouts and unnecessary waiting times.
“We will complement world-class service and in-store services such as a style suite, beauty rooms, mobile POS and a café, with a new Debenhams Australia mobile app that will provide a better experience and ensure we are always there, where-ever and whenever our customers need us.”
Dean told Inside Retail that the UK brand has curated a bespoke merchandising mix to the Melbourne demographic, both in mix and format.
“We’re not a traditional department store in the way that you would view a David Jones, Myer, or indeed a Debenhams back in the UK. This is a new format, new proposition to market. A curated offer with majority exclusive products.”
The smaller format is an aspect that the head office in the UK will be monitoring closely, with key executives set to see first-hand how the store is performing while in town attending the upcoming Melbourne Cup.
“They [UK HQ] definitely see this as the way of the future for department stores and super keen to see how it trades.”
The offering will include an extensive collection of women’s and men’s apparel, sleepwear and intimates, athleisure, accessories and contemporary homewares, along with established beauty and fragrance brands including the likes of MAC, Tom Ford, Bobbi Brown, Gucci, Chloe and Valentino.
The Designers at Debenhams collection for women and men will offer exclusive brands not available anywhere else in Australia and feature J by Jasper Conran, Star by Julien Macdonald, Nine by Savannah Miller, Butterfly by Matthew Williamson and Kate Middleton favourite, No. 1 Jenny Packham.
Debenhams St Collins Lane will join a portfolio of 243 Debenhams stores across 28 countries worldwide, and supports the retailer’s Debenhams Redesigned global strategy launched in early 2017 to drive the business forward.
The store will anchor the new St Collins Lane retail precinct, in a popular area of the Melbourne CBD considered by many to be the city’s traditional home of fashion and beauty.
“The opening of Debenhams St Collins Lane is an evolution of our success with the Australian market, with online sales to Australia already the largest outside of the United Kingdom,” Mr Dean said.
“There are more than 840,000 people in the Melbourne CBD every day and more than 2.2 million international visitors to the city each year, many of whom would have already been a customer in one of our Debenhams stores around the world.
“We have a track record of getting retail right, and we are confident in this new offering for Australia.”
Read more about Debenham’s plans for the Australian market in this week’s magazine, out tomorrow.
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