La Perla to open Australian store, continuing wave of international retailers

International luxury lingerie and swimwear brand La Perla will have its own Australian store once again, this time at Sydney Airport, a further sign of the robust premium brands market.

The brand has long been stocked in Australia by boutiques and department stores and previously had a store at Melbourne’s Crown Casino complex, but the Sydney airport store will be the first La Perla store in Australia since 2007.

The aspirational brand has signed a five-year lease with Sydney airport through travel retail group King Power International and the store will be based at the T1 International Terminal.

Sydney Airport has recently been increasing its international fashion offering, and now boasts other Australian retail firsts such as a Victoria’s Secret store and a Lonely Planet concept store.

La Perla Asia managing director Andrea Bonardi said in a statement he’s confident the brand will do well in Australia.

“Australians have until now had to travel overseas to experience the prestige and Italian tradition of La Perla. We’ve been attracted to the Australian market for some time, but wanted to wait for the right platform to introduce the brand.

“Sydney airport offers us a perfect opportunity to introduce the brand, given the airport’s strong retail performance and the fact there is nothing like La Perla in the Australian market,” he says.

Sydney Airport retail general manager Andrew Gardiner said in a statement the opening of La Perla will help it strengthen its considerable speciality fashion retail offering.

“The Australian-first La Perla store at Sydney Airport highlights our continued retail growth.

“Some 37 million passengers pass through Sydney Airport annually and we are committed to increasing the range and variety of retailers, particularly in TW1. Our retail offering is centred around providing value to our customers, while being innovative and fresh, and bringing sought-after international brands, such as La Perla, to the Australian market demonstrates this,” he says.

Retail Doctor Group chief executive Brian Walker told SmartCompany Australian airport retailing is “becoming world class”.

“There are some extremely high standards being set by airport retailers. I think La Perla’s decision has a lot to do with their brand awareness, it will have researched the travellers which are coming and going and tailor their range accordingly.

“It’s no coincidence there are some very well-known global brands which are in airports around the world. People travelling want to splurge a little and lingerie is not a bulky item, or they might be buying a last minute present,” he says.

Despite the recently tough trading conditions for retailers, Walker says luxury brands are going through a boom time.

“Luxury brand retail has really contradicted the mid to low end retail conditions. The last four years they’ve performed very well, with some luxury brands experiencing double digit growth.

“This shows us consumers who are cashed up and have this sort of taste are spending and they’ve spent right through the financial crisis. It just shows where there is a good quality offer and an aspirational brand, people will spend,” he says.

Since the Sydney Airport terminal was refurbished in 2010, it has increased its range of retailers and in 2013-2014, nearly 70 new tenancies will become available.

Gardiner says it’s currently in conversation with other international and domestic brands about “opportunities to enhance our existing mix”.

“The airport is a world-class retail destination, and retailers see the opportunities it presents as a unique location, along with the highest sales per square metre in the country.

“We experienced international passenger growth of 5.6% last year, boosted by strong numbers of Chinese, Singaporeans and Malaysians and we will continue to provide retail experiences that resonate with these markets,” he says.

Since 2011, a range of luxury international brands have set up shop in Australia including Salvatore Ferragamo, Bulgari, Gucci and Dior.

A study by MO Luxury found since 2010, the Australian luxury sector has grown by 25%.

Walker says Australia is turning into a “global shop” with international retailers bringing in billions of dollars to the retail economy.

“They understand the demographics, the consumer profiles and they can come into the market with more confidence than ever before. These retailers also look at our gross domestic product and see that’s it’s stronger than other countries and we have better access to key production areas,” he says.

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