Secrets bucks the retail blues

SSNL2Australian-owned jewellery retailer Secrets opened its fourth Brisbane based store, Westfield North Lakes, last week and has plans to open four further stores by the end of the year, bucking the the wave of discretionary retail consolidation sweeping the sector.

Three of the new stores will be located in Queensland, while the fourth will open in Melbourne’s Highpoint shopping centre, managing director Mike Parsell said.

“We joined the business to grow it, and it’s an important part of our strategy,” Parsell told Inside Retail. “We’re being very selective about where we are opening, and the market is there for us, so there’s really no reason for us not to.”

SSNL3“The biggest issue with expanding any business is attracting the right people, the right talent, to help you grow,” he said.

The former Michael Hill chief is no stranger to the challenges facing the jewellery sector, but believes the expansion is at pace with the growth of the business, which he became a majority shareholder in last year.

Though expanding into newer retail centres was important, and a key strategy for 2018, Parsell said the online presence of a business can make or break a customer’s experience.

Parsell noted that Secrets had rebuilt its e-commerce platform in the previous year, and by doing so had seen an increase in online sales.

“Online is a central part of your marketing strategy – or it should be – [it’s] where people come and learn about you,” he said.

“They research you there [and] make a decision to put you onto their brand consideration or they don’t. I don’t think you can underestimate the importance of it.”

The jewellery sector has not seen the catastrophic changes to its business model some other categories, such as fashion, have seen from the rise of online retail, as customers prefer to view big-ticket items such as jewellery in person before pulling the trigger on a purchase.

“I think as time goes on it will change as people get more comfortable shopping online,” said Parsell, adding that as return policies improve it will allow customers to try purchases without worry of being left with something they didn’t necessarily want.

“Jewellery has been less impacted than some of the other categories, but that’s not so say it will always be that way,” he said.

SSNL1

“The expansion of some of the larger international pressure players into the [Australian] market is obviously having an impact, and that’s starting to have an impact, from what I can see, on the malls and vacancy rates, and tenancy levels… I think that’s going to be more of an impact on the jewellery categories than online.”

The new location, Westfield North Lakes, will target young and multi-generational families and complement the brands’ existing Brisbane based offerings at Westfield Chermside, Westfield Carindale and Indooroopilly Shopping Centre.

Located in centre court, the North Lakes store will be close to the food court and in prime position for foot traffic, situated close to popular fashion and beauty brands such as Colette, MECCA, and Forever New.

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