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International retailers remain hungry for Australia

zaraIs the current disembarkation of international retail brands to our shores the beginning of an imminent armada? Or is it merely an isolated life raft of rats jumping from a sinking ship?

For shipshape local retailers, there is little cause for concern other than relishing the circumstance in order to compare benchmarks and exploit opportunities of improvement. Welcome the visitor with a ruthless home-ground advantage of dignified conviction and accomplishment.

To satiate their curiosity, the customer will bathe in the same 15 minutes of limelight they did when online shopping first entered the retail fray, before returning to their favourite sensory gratifying jaunt.

Retail employees would do well to be circumspect with their allegiances, ever wary not to end up walking the gangplank in the clamour for bounteous waters and expectations of Atlantis.

On the other hand, less astute local businesses will flounder as experienced world traders deploy every manoeuvre at their disposal, eventuating a potentially virulent rupture of clientele and personnel. The unprepared may not survive.

The consumer will determine the divide, which may eventuate the abandonment of ‘old faithful’ forever. The savvier team member will grasp at straws to distance himself or herself from the inevitable downward spiral.

Why these international retail brands choose to widen their exposure to foreign soils may be an indication of an inability to capture market share in their own backyard. This raises questions around how they intend to identify with a public they have limited experience with, and what they will do differently.

Of course, the alternative is they have cornered and exploited their own markets to the fullest extent possible, and they now seek to do the same elsewhere. This is a much harder to believe explanation on many accounts.

The genuine and more esteemed players will be in it for the long haul by taking the time to become ingrained in the local community through mutual interaction and benefit. There is always space for those willing to add value and contribute.

Dave Farrell is a retailer with three decades of experience on three continents. He can be reached at


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