Aussie retailers could soon see yet another influx of new competition, with South African retail giant The Foschini Group (TFG) saying it’s considering bringing some of its 22 retail brands Down Under.
The acquisition will see TFG add menswear brands Tarocash, .yd and Connor, as well as women’s activewear brand Rockwear to its stable. Foschini already has a number of brands across, jewellery, homewares, tech, and other specialty fashion.
Murray told Fairfax the group is looking to start a brand migration to Australia with its jewellery retailers, specifically diamond jewellery and watch retailer AmericanSwiss.
“We’ll go through each of our brands and do our research and make the call of which brands come in under this platform,” Murray told Fairfax.
“We’ve done full market research on jewellery … and we believe there would be an opportunity to bring one of our jewellery chains here, probably AmericanSwiss.”
The other jewellery chains under TFG’s umbrella are Sterns and Mat and May.
However, retail expert and academic at Queensland University of Technology School of Business Gary Mortimer believes the Australian jewellery retail space is crowded, and a jewellery or watch retailer would be “the last business I would consider opening here in Australia”.
“We’ve got a number of high profile jewellery retailers such as Prouds and Michael Hill which are starting to position themselves further up in the market,” Mortimer told SmartCompany.
“It’s a tough market to crack as the type of purchases made there are frequently related to discretionary spending which has recently been quite low in Australia.”
TFG also owns two different sports retailing brands; Sportscene and TotalSports, and Murray believes there’s possibility to bring one to Australia along with homewares brand @home.
However, Foschini might leave its “ladieswear” business out of the equation for some time.
“Sports is certainly one we’ve spoken about and we’d like to see how we could take that one forward,” Murray told Fairfax.
“Foschini is a very good ladies wear business but to bring another ladies wear business into Australia … we might get there one day but at the moment there are other opportunities.”
Mortimer believes TFG’s overall strategy makes sense, as Australian shoppers are keen to try out new brands, and there hasn’t been a “great deal of choice” in areas such as sportswear, which have been dominated mostly by Rebel Sports or Super Amart.
Both Murray and Mortimer believe these specialty-focused stores are the future of Australian retail, with Murray highlighting TFG’s position as a specialty retailer.
“We are not department store lovers, we think department store retailing is generally out of favour long-term worldwide – you can see that in America and Australia and South Africa,” Murray told Fairfax.
Mortimer agrees, saying the days of department stores “are numbered”, with retailers like Myer shutting a number of their regional stores.
“The way Australian consumers shop today is not with department stores, as we’ve got such a great range of specialty stores,” he says.
“Shoppers are more likely to walk into a specific brand’s store than a multiple level department store.”
TFG’s brands include:
• Charles & Keith
• Colette (South African franchise)
• G‑Star Raw (stores already in Australia)
• Phase Eight
• SODA Bloc
• The FIX
• American Swiss
• Mat & May
SmartCompany contacted TFG but did not receive a response prior to publication.