Debenhams in deep dive down under

Designers at Debenhams

One day Russia, next day – the world. Well, Australia, at least. But it’s clear from recent news that Debenhams’ ambitions are pretty global. No sooner has it signed to buy Stockmann’s Russian stores than it’s gearing up for a big push into Australia.

The retailer signed a deal with Pepkor’s Harris Scarfe chain and the full details of exactly what that means for both are now coming out.

Harris Scarfe will open 10 Debenhams standalones and will also offer the Designers at Debenhams ranges in its own stores, both of which are pretty big developments.

We’ll see the first four or five 4,000 sq m stores opening in the next three years with each one set to generate revenues of around A$10m annually.

A separate deal will see Harris Scarfe selling the Designers at Debenhams lines and other products from the British retailer.

Is sounds like a win-win for both parties with Harris Scarfe upping its patchy fashion credentials in one fell swoop and Debenhams getting a boost from a local partner that knows the market.

Interestingly, Debenhams is bowing to that superior local knowledge. The reverse seasonality of Australia – where the country is in the middle of autumn/winter when the Northern hemisphere is in spring/summer – has caused problems for international names expanding there in the past.

But Harris Scarfe chief Graham Dean told the Sydney Morning Herald that overseas retailers “would traditionally dictate the range to the franchise partner – that’s not how this deal works.”

Instead, Harris Scarfe’s team will select the products they think are right and they’ll also be able to stock Debenhams’ summer range in Queensland stores in the same season.

Can’t wait to hear how the first stores and ranges fare…

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