Economy

Fletcher Jones closes doors but opens eCommerce store

Yolanda Redrup /

Iconic Australian menswear retailer Fletcher Jones, renowned for selling largely to the “greying” population, has opened a new online store, despite only closing its doors one year ago.

The long-established brand first started trading in 1924 in the regional Victorian town of Warrnambool. When its founder Sir Fletcher Jones died in 1977 the brand was one of the largest in the country, employing 3000 people across 33 stories.

Fletcher died well before the online revolution, but under the new ownership of the Gowty family the brand is being rejuvenated as a predominantly online business.

The brand has a community of 2127 Facebook fans, and when it closed up shop last year its page was flooded with support from Australians lamenting the loss of the brand.

Australians are now able to purchase goods through Fletcher Jones’ website, which managing director Matt Gowty says has so far been a “very positive” move.

“The main website was released on March 22, 2013 and so far it’s been very positive. For the first two months it’s been up on budget and it seems like the age group have enjoyed the experience,” he says.

Gowty says the brand’s oldest online customer so far is a “young” 87-year-old man.

“I’ve spoken to him personally and he was actually surprised he was the oldest. He did it all himself and actually found it an easy experience,” Gowty says.

Gowty expects more people of a similar age to start shopping at the online store, as older Australians learn how to use iPads, smartphones and computers.

A recent survey by MasterCard on shopping behaviour revealed 76% of Australian men and women aged between 50 and 64 had made at least five purchases online and 71% of these shoppers had bought items from an Australian retailer.

Nearly one quarter of these purchases were made on a smartphone.

The Fletcher Jones website has a set of clear instructions detailing how to order products and if a shopper is struggling with the website, they are able to call up and someone from Fletcher Jones will help them with the process.

As well as the online store, Gowty says there are plans to have concept stores where consumers can try on clothes before making their purchase online.

“Within the next six months we’re looking to have a concept store in Melbourne. It will be smaller than the average store and since rents are so expensive and there are a lot of retail outlets closing down, we’re bringing a different concept,” he says.

Gowty says without the high rent costs clothing is able to be sold cheaper and since launching it has already sold several thousand pairs of trousers.

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