Agent Provocateur launches first Australian store, partners with David Jones

Lingerie label Agent Provocateur has opened its first store in Australia, partnering with department store giant David Jones to launch its first retail operation over the weekend.

The announcement is the second retail partnership David Jones has announced in as many weeks, opening up with online retailer Shoes of Prey last week.

Agent Provocateur is also one of several international brands which have opened in Australia recently, with Dior opening their first flagship store in Sydney last week.

Another Agent Provocateur store will be opening at David Jones in Bourke St Mall in Melbourne on February 7.

Retail consultant Brian Walker, chief executive of the Retail Doctor Group, told SmartCompany more international brands are collaborating with local businesses such as David Jones.

“These organisations are looking for business models that have established brand identity, loyal customers, a strong advertising and marketing budget and a natural alignment in the target market.

“Opening with a department store like David Jones provides a good testing ground for a brand to gain knowledge,” he says.

The move to Australia was announced by the brand’s chief executive Gareth Hogarth in September 2012.

Despite not previously having any Australian boutiques, the brand has always been popular with Australians, with their website receiving over 20,000 visits a day.

Despite a recently struggling retail sector, luxury brands have continued to perform well in Australia.

Walker says Agent Provocateur’s online customers will likely continue to buy from them in-store as well.

“I think they’re in-store anyway, it gives them an opportunity now to touch and feel the products,” he says.

But Walker says it’s important for the brand to establish a brand experience while being in a department store if they are to be successful.

“They need to create an in-store experience; sex sells. How they do that in a department store will be the next challenge. It is achievable and cosmetics do it quite well.”

“I’ve seen one or two of their displays and my view is they’re good, but it probably doesn’t fulfil their needs,” he says.

Even with the backing of an established brand such as David Jones, Walker says equal numbers of brands fail as do succeed.

International lingerie brand La Senza ceased operations in Australia late last year, with all 19 of their stores closed.

An Inside Retail article reported Speciality Fashion Group were exiting their license of the store after struggling to match their North American-based products to the Australian market.

Walker says this reflects the challenges of opening in a new market.

“You’ve got to really know your market and your position in the market. Maintaining an online business while moving into department stores is clever.”

“Every single time a person visits a department store they walk past the brand and they become part of that department store’s promotions,” he says.

SmartCompany contacted David Jones, but it was unable to comment prior to publication.

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