Department store giants bank on exclusivity

MYER_NEW_LABELSRetail giants Myer and David Jones certainly aren’t resting on their laurels, particularly after the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed spending in the department stores category fell 1.14 per cent in November last year, a concerning sign in the lead up to the crucial Christmas spending period.

Instead, Myer has come out swinging in 2018, exclusively signing eight international fashion houses to its designer stable, including Marni, Lanvin, Ganni, Carmen March [Myer will be its first Australian stockist], Rochas, Jil Sander and Victoria, Victoria Beckham. Myer is also introducing Diane Von Furstenberg into its stores.

“It is important for Myer to stock some brands exclusively particularly when it comes to luxury designer fashion,” Karen Brewster, Myer executive general manager – merchandise buying told Inside Retail.

“This supports our brand strategy to be known as a key destination for international shoppers when visiting Australia and also allows us the opportunity to build ongoing relationships with local clientele who know they can shop designer brands at Myer that they won’t find anywhere else in Australia.

“There is also exclusivity in that you are able to physically try these garments and take the item home with you that day which is important to a lot of people that aren’t willing to shop designer online for that very reason.”

Brewster said Myer made it a priority to bring “a strong and curated mix of desirable brands, from your more affordable and younger labels such as Ganni, through to your more high end designers such as Lanvin and Marni” on board, after “great success in the event dressing segment”.

“The introduction of brands such as Rochas and Lanvin will service the consumer who desires an extra special piece they can only usually find online. Ganni is particularly relevant in helping Myer to capture a new younger aspirational shopper, that wants to buy into designer without breaking the bank.”

Commenting on whether we could see mens and children’s fashion categories also expand, Brewster said decisions were based on demand.

“We continue to be customer focused and develop and grow our ranges based on consumer demand across our men’s and kids fashion,” she said.

“Our menswear customer responds well to our current offer of local and international icon brands and our kidswear consumer loves our very own in house designed brands Milkshake and Sprout.

The retailer said the influx of brands into its merchandising mix will increase its relevance to customers.

“This is a major coup for Myer and further establishes us as the premier destination for the most desired and in-demand fashion and lifestyle brands in Australia,” the company said.

“In relation to sales, the aim is to increase sales and profitability in this highly competitive international brand space. We are confident the Australian fashion shopper will love the introduction of these world renowned brands into Myer.

“It is an ever-changing market and we must have our fingers on the pulse, continue to evolve, conform to the demands of the market and shifts in technology.”

David Jones nabs Kiwi

Meanwhile David Jones has nabbed an exclusive agreement with New Zealand’s Kate Sylvester, as the retailer looks to boost its revenue after seeing sales improve over the last six weeks.

The Kiwi brand’s collections will be available from the Autumn Winter 2018 season.

Kate Sylvester’s main collection and diffusion line are both currently stocked at David Jones’ first international store in Wellington and from early 2018, David Jones will welcome both to its designer collections in Australia.

Established in 1993, Sylvester is one of New Zealand’s premier fashion designers, known for her exclusive in-house prints and will sit among David Jones’ stable of designer brands alongside Camilla & Marc, Aje, Karen Walker and KitX.

“Kate Sylvester is a prominent and celebrated brand in the Australian and New Zealand markets, and one that we are thrilled to welcome to our designer stable in Australia following the brand’s recent success in our Wellington store,” said David Collins, David Jones managing director of clothing and general merchandise.

“Renowned for collections that embody sophistication and modern femininity, we are excited to offer the range to our Australian customers.”

Myer3Tit for tat versus differentiation

With both Myer and David Jones looking to entice customers through holding exclusivity, some industry experts aren’t convinced by the strategy.

According to Clair van Veen, brand and customer experience strategy consultant, there is no such thing as brand exclusivity.

“The department stores talk about brand exclusivity but what they really mean is that the other one can’t have them,” van Veen told Inside Retail Weekly magazine earlier this week.

“The reality is I can shop from home on Net-a-Porter, Matches or Bergdorf Goodman or go down to my local Parlour X, Incu or Disorder Boutique for every brand announced.”

Differentiated product will always be important, said van Veen, but experience will define a retailer’s point of view to market and “therefore give consumers a reason to shop with you over all others”.

“And the experience isn’t just better service, although that’s a start,” she added.

“It’s relevant inspiration at home, the right range, distinct styling, visual merchandising, knowledgeable staff, conveniences, entertainment and 1,000 details like packaging, return policies and registries.

“If – in my dreams – I’m going to buy a $5,000 Lanvin dress, do I want to take it home in a David Jones or Myer bag? Or do I want it delivered in the beautiful Matches boxes I use to colour my home after I take the dress out?

“Stocking the best brands under one roof is not a brand positioning, it’s the cost of entry for aggregators.”

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