From Finland to the Philippines: Overseas chains hitting Oz from all angles
Finnish fashion and homewares company Marimekko is preparing to open two stores in Sydney and Melbourne, while Filipino chain Max’s Restaurant is also eyeing the Australian market.
Marimekko, founded in 1951 by Viljo and Armi Ratia, is a textile and clothing company renowned for its flamboyant prints and colours.
The company designs and manufactures high quality items ranging from furnishing fabrics and tableware to clothing, bags and other accessories.
Having already established a strong following in North America and northern Europe, Marimekko has now set its sights on Australia, earmarking two sites in Sydney and Melbourne.
Steve Raw, Marimekko marketing and sales manager for Australia, told StartupSmart the stores will be located at 66 King Street in the Sydney CBD and 576 Chapel Street in the Melbourne suburb of South Yarra.
“We’re really excited. We’re opening in mid-spring… That’s all we have planned for the moment,” Raw says.
Both locations will feature the entire range of Marimekko products. The Sydney store, which is 300 square metres, sits adjacent to big-name retailers Louis Vuitton and Apple.
The store, which has eight-metre ceilings and is flooded with natural light, was designed by Marimekko’s store design team and Tokyo-based architecture firm IMA.
Meanwhile, the Melbourne store, which is 200 square metres, is designed to complement the already-buzzing Chapel Street shopping strip.
Raw says the company isn’t overly concerned about the retail downturn in Australia.
“We’re more aware [of it] than we ever have been before… We’re certainly aware of the paradigm [shift] happening in retail at the moment,” he says.
“But we’re fairly confident a brand like ours… [is] something the consumer is ready to relate to. When you see brands like Asos and Apple – we try and fit ourselves into that category.”
While Marimekko will attempt to carve a slice of the high end market, another international company could potentially gain market share in the lower end.
Filipino company Max’s Restaurant, which describes itself as a traditional chicken house, has set its sights on the Asia-Pacific as it ramps up its global expansion plans.
Max’s Restaurant was founded by Maximo Gimenez in the wake of the Second World War. It initially served chicken, steak and drinks.
In addition to its own brand, Max’s Restaurant also franchises Krispy Kreme and Jamba Juice in the Philippines.
Over the years, the company has expanded into the United States, Canada and the United Arab Emirates. It has now turned its attention to the Asia-Pacific, namely Australia and Singapore.
According to chief financial officer Rebecca Arago, the company favours markets with high numbers of Filipino workers.
“Maybe we’ll try Australia and Singapore or Hong Kong. We believe there are more professional Filipinos and immigrants there,” Arago told Inside Retail.
It’s unknown whether franchising opportunities would become available in Australia, or whether the stores would be company-operated.