Yd. head of retail, Vlad Jacubson, said the business is averaging double-digit like for like growth in the current financial year to date, which head lead ushered in an air of positivity within the business.
With its first shop established over 20 years ago, in 1995, Yd. offers smart casual wear for the 17-27 year old demographic and currently has 93 stores in Australia and two in New Zealand. With stores across all Australian states and territories, the largest numbers are within NSW with 28 stores, followed by Victoria with 23, and Queensland with 20.
The new stores will be concentrated in NSW and New Zealand, and possibly Western Australia.
“We definitely feel we can grow NSW further – both in the CBD and regional areas,” Jacubson said. “And we think we can grow New Zealand as well.
“We’re not in a hurry, because we need to make sure we get the right location and the right deals.”
Location is key for Yd., whose stores are all located within shopping centres.
“One of the key things we say is – we care a lot about the centre but not necessarily who’s next to us; the tenants come and go,” Jacubson explained. “We feel strongly about our brand and we [also] feel strongly that once our customer knows where we are, they’ll come back and find us.”
This store push is being accompanied by the trialing of a larger store footprint. At present, Yd. stores average 110sqm in size.
“We’ve made a decision that we’re potentially going to trial a couple of bigger size stores because we feel we could offer a better instore experience for our customers, which present the product in a better way as well. We feel we can push to a 150-170sqm size in the next 12 months.”
Of the new stores, two or three will be in this bigger trial size format.
A new look store format is also accompanying the increases to store numbers and size. The new Yd. store concept will be launched over the next six weeks. It will include three refurbishments of current stores – in NSW’s Macarthur store, in Robina in Queensland, and a factory outlet store in Essendon, Victoria. The new concept is not only the upgrading the fixtures and fittings, it’s more customer focused.
“That’s a really exciting part of our ongoing re-branding of the business and is really exciting,” Jacubson enthused. “We want our business to be recognised as a brand that our customers will remember just by looking at the site.
“[The stores] are a lot more modern, cleaner; a lot more aesthetically pleasing. And they’re unique. There’s something with our fit-outs that no other retailer has. From the materials we use to the fixtures inside the store; they’re all unique to us. Nothing is off the shelf; it’s all designed and all made in-house to make sure it’s representative of our brand.
The fitout aims to be smart, fun, and engaging for customers. The new format also pays tribute to one of Yd.’s current regional stores, which features an unusual wall shape.
“It’s almost a zig zag, and our new concept pays tribute to that,” Jacubson explained. “It modernises that. So there’s going to be a little bit more heritage, a little bit more history within our new stores; we don’t want to lose what we’ve always had – we just want to make it more relevant to the current customer,” he said.
Yd. is also in the process of upgrading its visual merchandising as well as store atmosphere – everything from engaging with the customer via a really good lookbook, having better presentation of stock and not being as cluttered and easier to shop from to better sized change rooms, more areas in which customers can relax and take their time in visiting the store.
“It’s basically designed more with the customer in mind – to increase their time instore,” Jacubson explained. “There’s a big focus on engaging with the customer via our look and what our clothes are meant to be worn like. One of our core values is that we make all of our decisions based on the customer feedback.”
The whole multichannel experience is a key goal of Yd. for the forthcoming financial year. The retailer’s online store is experiencing similar growth to its bricks and mortar stores.
A focus on mobile is accompanying this to ensure customers can access and shop comfortably from their phones, and Jacubson said there’s a lot more that he wants to do with the mobile functionality of the Yd. website.
From a branding point of view, Yd. is looking at bringing in specific digital and social media experts to help it grow its online presence.
“It’s something that’s been part of our business that we’ve made a really good stride in in the last 12 months. But we believe that there’s so much more in it.”
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