Debenhams ramps up customer acquisition in Australia

Debenhams-Department-Store-81078122UK department store, Debenhams, is intensifying its focus on the Australian market ahead of opening standalone stores Down Under.

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Putting clicks before bricks, Debenhams has launched a localised Australian website and kicked off its first Australian marketing campaign.

While the retailer didn’t specify when the first standalone store is set to open in Australia, e-commerce director, Ross Clemmow, said Australia is currently Debenhams biggest international market for online revenue.

“In preparation for the store launch, we are first expanding the e-commerce operation selling directly to the Australian consumer,” Clemmow told Inside Retail Weekly.

In October 2015, Debenhams announced it had partnered with franchise partner, Pepkor, part of the South Africa-based global retail giant, Steinhoff International Holdings, which also owns Freedom, Snooze, and Poco in Australia, to launch the UK brand in Australia.

“Pepkor is a true global player with the necessary resource and local market expertise to drive the business forward,” Clemmow said. “Working together, we will be able to share best practice operationally and this partnership will soon see us enter the market with a store presence.”

Debenhams-screenshotDebenhams’ own brand womenswear, womens’ accessories and menswear product will also be distributed and retailed within selected Pepkor-owned Harris Scarfe stores from October 2016.

In the meantime, the retailer is building its brand in Australia through digital channels. Clemmow outlined Debenhams’ ambitious plan to triple Australian online sales within 12 months.

“We understand the importance of bringing tailored, localised content for a more compelling user experience. Throughout 2016 we will continue to further localising our delivery proposition and work on launching a designer hub content for the website,” he said.

With distribution based in the UK out of Peterborough and York, Debenhams is offering Australian shoppers the same range that is available on the UK high street.

The site offers consumers a combination of more than 25,000 products from a range of ownbought and international brands, plus access to exclusive high street collections.

“Our product offer is pretty unique – no other store has the same offering of British designers designing for the high street on offer,” Clemmow said.

“Designers including Jasper Conran, Matthew Williamson, Henry Holland can now be delivered straight to Australian consumers’ doors.”

The new website is being supported with a robust multimedia campaign titled, ‘A Match Made at Debenhams’.

“We will be investing in driving awareness via advertising, email campaigns and SEO – paid, retargeting and product listing ads with Google to drive online sales,” Clemmow said.

Debenhams currently has 248 stores across 28 countries opening its first international store in Bahrain in 1997, followed by further stores across the Middle East including Egypt, Kuwait, Iran, Jordan, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

Debenhams plans to grow its international business to around 30 per cent of its total business, through franchise expansion, international online growth and distributing owned brands beyond Debenhams franchise markets.

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