Dior opens first Australian store: Five key lessons for your business from the luxury retailer

Australians with a taste for luxury fashions were rejoicing last night with the opening of a flagship store for high-end fashion retailer Dior.

The three-story store opened on Castlereagh Street, in Sydney’s CBD, in a move designed to bring the brand into the Asia-Pacific market.

The brand was launched in 1947 in France and in the same year David Jones reproduced four Christian Dior garments for their “Paris Fashion for all” line.

In 1948 Dior brought 50 original pieces to Australia for the first time.

SmartCompany contacted the Christian Dior Australia branch, but no one was available to comment prior to publication.

In a report in The Australian, Christian Dior Couture chief executive Sidney Toledano said expanding in Asia was important for the business.

“The world has changed over the last three or four years and the centre of gravity of the global economy is moving towards Asia?.?.?.?We are developing our business in this part of the world,” he said.

But Toledano said creating a brand experience was their ultimate long-term strategy.

“They go to the store and want to see it, feel it, understand it … We want every member of our staff to know all the information so the customer understands what we do. This is our global, long-term strategy,” he said.

SmartCompany spoke to the chief executive of the Retail Doctor Group, Brian Walker, and asked what businesses can learn from Dior:

1. Timing is key

For any businesses moving into a new market, Walker says timing is key.

“Well it’s interesting because in the global financial crisis, globally, premium fashion retailers have had their best ever trading years.

“High-end fashion retailers have had very, very strong trading results, fuelled by very high demand in Asian markets and this market,” he says.

Walker says the success of brands such as Oroton and Burberry Australia highlight this trend.

In the December quarter, Burberry posted a 15% jump in sales in the Asia-Pacific region.

2. Be careful choosing a location

Walker says retailers must also carefully select their location when opening a new store.

“Sydney is becoming a world class retailing city with international brands, fuelled by increasingly savvy demographics and a very strong Asiatic demand for these brands.

“So you get this sort of inflection point where globally these brands are becoming very successful.

“Cities like Sydney are becoming more cosmopolitan and it has one of the most prime real estate markets.

Zara, Top Shop and other international brands have opened here and so it makes perfect sense, the timing is right,” he says.

3. Know your consumers

Walker says brands must also get to know their consumers.

“Online has allowed a lot more capability for these brands to know who their consumers are.

“It’s very much about understanding the trends, playing to your strengths, creating a relevant brand experience,” he says.

The move, Walker says, will be a good thing for Sydney and largely received well by other retail businesses.

“Overall Sydney will welcome it. It will bring more people to Sydney… and help with the globalisation of Sydney as a retail centre,” he says.

4. Establish a brand identity

Walker says brand identity is a crucial element of establishing a high-end label.

“Ultimately, it’s a very established brand and the brand is much bigger than the people [who run it].

Dior successfully created an aspirational brand image identity that people remember.

“Paradoxically, when times get tighter, retail markets split into two camps and the aspirational brands are driven up,” he says.

5. Create a relevant brand experience

Similar to brand identity, Walker says, retailers must personify their image and generate a “brand experience” that attracts the right customers.

“The interesting thing about brands like this is they actually tell the market which consumers they don’t want to do business with.

“By being so segmented they actually say this is the consumer we don’t want,” he says.

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