Is a Cotton On cafe in the works? The three things adding to the retailer’s strength

Cotton On

Could Cotton On soon be offering you a latte to go with your activewear?

The retail group lodged an application at the end of 2016 for the development of a venue on Pakington Street in Geelong West, which would include bar and restaurant facilities, the Geelong Advertiser reported last month.

Public comment on the application closed last week, but the plans reportedly include provisions for alterations and additions for a food and drink premises and use of land for the sale and consumption of liquor.

The site is located 4km from the retailer’s global headquarters in the regional Victorian city, although Cotton On is keeping quiet on whether the project will carry the name of one of its brand imprints. A Cotton On spokesperson told the Advertiser it will be a “commercial development” and that no more information can be revealed at this stage.

Cotton On Group has emerged as one of the leading Australian middle market retail brands over the past year, and is even credited with putting the final nail in the coffin of stores like Pumpkin Patch.

Meanwhile, the decision to take its Typo brand to the UK instead of its traditional clothing stores was seen as solid strategy from retail experts.

Brian Walker, chief executive of The Retail Doctor, says while it’s difficult to know at this stage what the plan is with the new Geelong site, Cotton On has three key elements that have contributed to its strength in a turbulent Australian market.

“They’re on trend, they have speed to market, and the ability to build a replicable model,” he told SmartCompany.

“Everything’s done at a speed that is better than their competitors.”

This means the business has been able to successfully roll out stores across a variety of product segments, including activewear at Cotton On Body and home goods through Typo.

This approach could extend well to hospitality in theory, Walker says. But when it comes to growth, he believes the business also has to be wary of growing too fast.

“If on the basis that the model is sound and works well in every market, the caution is still growing too fast too quickly,” Walker says.

The Cotton On brand now covers men’s, women’s and childrenswear, activewear through the Cotton On Body imprint, shoes through Rubi shoes and cards, stationery and homewares through the Typo brand.

The business turned 25 years old in 2016, and spent the past 12 months spruiking its commitment to ethical supply chains and corporate social responsibility.

SmartCompany contacted Cotton On but the company was unable to provide further comment prior to publication.

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