The chief executive of shoe brand operator Munro Footwear Group says the company has found “a good mix of assets” through a deal with Betts Group that will see it immediately add 22 new bricks-and-mortar stores to its network, many of these in areas where the business has never had a presence.
Munro, which owns a stable of brands including Williams, Cinori, Mountfords and Mathers, took over 22 of Betts Group’s Betts and Airflex-branded retail sites last week and rebranded these into Midas, Mathers and Williams stores.
The 22 Betts stores employed 112 workers and the Munro Group will is offering employment to all staff in the rebranded stores.
The move sees Munro extending its store footprint at a time when retail experts are predicting this year will be all about consolidation. Munro chief executive Jay Munro tells SmartCompany he still believes retailers should be taking a hard look at whether their store networks are viable, but in his company’s case, it’s a case of finding a good mix of brands in the right spots.
“I think it [store footprints] is a very relevant thing, I think having the right sized portfolio is super relevant for any retail business,” Munro says.
“You have to do your work and maximise your retail portfolio, and if that means shrinking it, you should be.”
The move to rebrand the 22 Betts stores came after Betts signalled last month it would focus primarily on its flagship store sites, as well as its online offering. Munro says the decision to take on the other 22 sites means Munro Footwear now has a presence in 16 new locations that it hasn’t previously operated in before, largely in South Australia and Western Australia.
The new stores are located in regional areas like Bunbury and Port Lincoln, but Munro says the company isn’t just focused on regional areas and has secured a mixture of sites.
“I think it’s a really good mixture of both assets [regional and bigger cities], it’s not one or the other. For us, it’s centred around South and Western Australia, where we’ve not traditionally been strong — we saw a great opportunity,” he says.
Retail expert and associate professor at the Queensland University of Technology Business School, Dr Gary Mortimer, tells SmartCompany that launching some sites outside big cities could work well for the shoe retail group in the longer term.
“[Regional towns are] cheaper towns and cities to operate within, and you’re going to go in there with a new offer,” he says.
“I think there are opportunities for any type of business to do this, as long as they can define a market where there’s not already a significant amount of competition or replicating an existing offer.”
Midas heads to WA
The rebranding of the 22 sites will also see the Midas imprint launch standalone stores in Western Australia for the first time, having previously trialled concessions in David Jones stores.
“We think Midas really resonates with that 35-year-old+ market — the lady who loves fashion,” Munro says.
“It’s about having the right brands in the right locations. We’re really excited to be opening them.”
The new stores have been launched just months after Munro decided to close bricks-and-mortar Diana Ferrari stores and strengthen the well-known brand through a new strategy, including a big focus on the brand’s online store and distribution networks.
Munro Footwear came to own Diana Ferrari last year after the company acquired Fusion Retail Brands.
When asked whether future acquisitions of other footwear brands were on the table, Munro says “nothing is on the cards”, although the company has been happy with using an acquisition strategy for growth over the past five years.
“Right now, we have plenty to do,” he says.