UK fashion chain Reiss clothing is set to open its first Australian store next year in what is the latest example of a large overseas retailer coming to Australian shores.
The retailer, which set up a website dedicated to Australian orders in 2012, has reportedly secured 122sqm of space at St Collins Lane, a $200 million new retail centre under construction in central Melbourne.
The project will also see retailers such as Sandro, Maje, Coach, TAG and Furla set up shop in the centre.
The Retail Doctor Group’s Brian Walker told SmartCompany this morning Reiss looked to have positioned itself well – not only in terms of being part of the St Collins Lane centre but also in terms of its ability take on some of the big local brands such as Witchery and Country Road.
“They’re in exactly the right spot,” he says.
“It’s a good opening location for them; it makes a lot of sense.
“I think they’ll go into a very elegant redevelopment. They’re going into it with a lot of preliminary work done.”
Walker is “curious” to see what REISS’ overall expansion plans are for Australia.
“They’d need to get serious scale in this country to be a challenge or threat to the Country Road, Witchery or Sportscrafts of this world, however, they’re well known for the quality of their products,” he says.
Walker says it is likely a strategic move by the retailer to have set up a website for Australian shoppers before setting up a bricks-and-mortar store.
“There’s a greater probability of success once they’ve done that,” he says.
“To grow their online business in Australia, they need to have a physical presence too.”
He says setting up an online store first gave overseas retailers a chance to increase their level of competence, reduce risk and get their logistics and supply channels right.
“A couple of years providing online orders is fundamental to the probability of success,” he says.
While it raises issues about overseas retailers coming in and taking a share of the market, Walker says there are some very good players in the local market who would adapt to the incursion.
“It’s all about adaption,” he says.
“We’ve got some very good domestic retailers in these categories that aren’t going to surrender without a fight.”
He says the lessons for retailers come down to having a multi-channel strategy.
“It’s all about having retail physical stores and having online,” he says.
“It’s not about being a pure online retailer or bricks-and-mortar retailer, it’s about integration.”
Zelman Ainsworth, Victorian manager at CBRE, the Australian company who acted as leasing agent for REISS, told SmartCompany this afternoon he believes REISS is part of a “flood gate” of international retailers heading into Australia.
He says the “noise” or publicity brought by such international retailers was a positive thing for local Australian retailers.
“Local brands can enjoy the attention they are getting on the back of all the international hype,” he says.
SmartCompany contacted REISS clothing’s UK headquarters but did not receive a response prior to publication.
*SmartCompany updated the article at 2.22pm to include comments by CBRE’s Zelman Ainsworth.