Honey Birdette charts international expansion
Hot on the heels of unveiling its latest flagship design at Parramatta in Sydney in preparation for further UK expansion, the retailer is looking to expand its reach locally and abroad.
Honey Birdette founder and managing director Eloise Monaghan has just completed a whirlwind tour across North America and Europe, including a visit to London to inspect current stores and evaluate potential sites. According to Monaghan, the brand has just set up the company’s US headquarters in Los Angeles.
“Honey Birdette really resonates with the LA customer, the products are designed
to be seen, whether it’s innerwear worn as outerwear – the more you can show off, the better. We love it over there as well. It’s a bit like Australia,” she told IRW.
Mongahan said the brand’s popularity has been fuelled by celebrity promotion of the product via social media platforms, especially Instagram.
“We’ve grown really organically over there without any advertising or retargeting, it’s really just Instagram that’s driving it,” she explained.
“Our digital team is really following a very aggressive influencer strategy – our US [online] sales now account for 35 per cent of the business, which is incredible in a very short amount of time.”
With US stores set to launch between August and October this year, Monaghan said the lingerie retailer will also ramp up their UK footprint with five stores to open, in tandem with a “massive focus” on its digital presence.
Monaghan said there are no plans for further European expansion at the moment, as the retailer does not want to stretch itself too thinly.
At a local level, the retailer will focus on opening three to four more flagships around Australia, while a couple of stores will be wound back after current leases expire.
“In Australia, we can open a store within 21 days, but it’s not quite like that [overseas]. We’ve just got to get some localised learnings. We learnt a lot and made a lot of mistakes launching into the UK, which has been good prep for now,” Monaghan explained.
Honey Birdette will focus on unique designs for future shops – a far cry from the “full height, grey, boring fitouts” that retail design managers are moving away from, says Monaghan.
“Each footprint will have its own unique element. Some might have a champagne bar for example, a peep show in another, a stage or a catwalk…for me, the shopfits [are] probably the most exciting part of the business besides product.”
Commenting on the brand’s “polarising personality” with customers, Monaghan said the company’s product is exceptionally different to its competitors.
“We are the only lingerie company in the world to be launching a collection a week, which is just intense,” Monaghan said. “I think the GFC cleared out a lot of the competitors in the market and lingerie had become very corporatised. But Honey Birdette’s actually run by a passionate head office team of 25 who are young, nimble, quick and really punch above their weight.”
“You can have the best people and presentation in the world, but if you don’t have the product and it’s not something that’s 100 per cent unique, 100 per cent wanted or 100 per cent right at the right time, you may as well wrap it up. Product is absolutely king.”
No sale policy
The luxury lingerie chain is moving rapidly towards a ‘no sale’ policy, in a move away from rampant discounting events, such as Black Friday and Boxing Day.
“We really think scarcity and sense of urgency around a collection is key,” said Monaghan.
“I think Black Friday was the killer for retail this year. A lot of stores got addicted to it and couldn’t come off it before Christmas and that was a real shame to see. We held fast and value our product. It was quite devastating to walk around shopping centres and see 95 per cent of people at sales on the 19th of December.
“We want to be here for a long time and well-known as the hottest lingerie brand in the world and certainly won’t be doing that by putting sales stickers on everything on the 19th and Boxing Day sales on the 23rd.”
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