Pumpkin Patch reborn: Why Catch Group is taking the challenge to Country Road and Seed

Pumpkin Patch

The new Pumpkin Patch range. Source: Supplied.

Childrenswear retailer Pumpkin Patch has officially risen from the ashes, with new owner Catch Group optimistic its strategy of Australian-designed kids’ goods will restore the company to household-name status.

The brand, which collapsed in October 2016 amid challenging retail conditions in Australia and New Zealand, was purchased by online retail company Catch Group in March, with chief executive Nati Harpaz telling SmartCompany at the time the business was starting to review its database of millions of customer email addresses.

Eight months later, Catch has unveiled the relaunched online Pumpkin Patch offering, and Harpaz says as the company eyes other exclusive brands across a range of categories, the idea of a bricks-and-mortar relaunch isn’t out of the question.

I think consumers do want to touch and feel, and that’s something we’re going to expand into in the future. Once we get that figured out, we can go back and look at bricks-and-mortar.” 

Two years into the future, he says there could be up to 10 “flagship” style Pumpkin Patch stores across Australia and New Zealand, as well as the online offering of “quite a strong range” of both casual and dressier kids options.

Just months before Pumpkin Patch’s collapse, analysis of the childrenswear market in Australia suggested the brand was a market leader in the $3.3 billion kids’ clothing space.

A 2016 report from IBISWorld outlines that while the brand had suffered big revenue losses, estimated to be up to 20% in 2013-14, it was still a key brand in the space with a market chunk of 4.2%.

At the time of the brand’s collapse, retail experts told SmartCompany it had been squeezed by other mid-market retailers as the company struggled to position itself amid other value-driven children’s brands.

Harpaz says there are plenty of competitors in the space, but Catch Group is clear about who it is fighting — and what Pumpkin Patch offers.

“I think we’re competing against Seed, Country Road, and all those international players,” he says, highlighting that the childrenswear products from companies like H&M are also attractive to parents.

However, he says Catch Group now has an exclusive and well-known brand shoppers can’t access anywhere else, with the focus on local designers and the clothing needs of kids in the region.

We design in Australia and New Zealand for that customer base, we’re very successful about it,” he says. 

Catch Group also already has the infrastructure through its digital channels to offer higher-quality products at a lower price point.

“One of the things we’ve witnessed is some of the pure online players to leverage their infrastructure and bring products back to market, but at a much better price.

“The intention we have is that the clothes will last a very long time,” Harpaz says.

IBISWorld predicts the childrenswear market will grow at an annualised 1.4% over the five years to 2021.

Harpaz says Catch Group will use its pre-existing retail infrastructure to grow the brand over this time, but it’s not only childrenswear that the company has its eye on when it comes to exclusive brands.

“The reality is it gives us a competitive advantage, to have exclusive brands and that thing the customer has to come for you for. In every other category we’re looking for other things like this.”

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