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Topshop, Australia: Retail Expert Offers Tips To Start-ups

Topshop reportedly poised for Australian launch

By Michelle Hammond
Thursday, 14 July 2011

British fashion brand Topshop is understood to be preparing to open two Australian stores, one in Sydney and one in Melbourne.


Reports have been circulating that Topshop is planning to enter the Australian market following successful entries of other foreign retailers, most notably Spanish clothing chain Zara.


Topshop is believed to have taken a 2800 square metre space in Melbourne’s Jam Factory, located on the Chapel Street fashion strip, but Jam Factory centre management would not comment.


The site was previously occupied by bookstore chain Borders, whose parent company REDgroup Retail entered into administration earlier in the year.


It’s also been reported Topshop plans to open a store in Sydney’s Chatswood Chase shopping centre.


With stores in more than 20 countries in addition to online operations Topshop is known for affordable fast fashion and free online shipping.


The chain was founded in 1964 and has become one of the most sought-after brands in the world, partly due to a three-year partnership between it and British supermodel Kate Moss.


In addition to characterising in-store trends under themes like Urban Traveller and Gypsy Rocker, Topshop uses social media to launch new lines and to provide stock updates.


A spokesperson for Chatswood Chase told StartupSmart she hasn’t heard anything about the plans and it was unlikely that the centre would receive confirmation until a leasing agreement had been finalised.


“It probably is correct but I can’t confirm anything officially,” she says.


Brian Walker, managing director of The Retail Doctor, says if Topshop descends on Australian shores he has no doubt that it will do well.


“These businesses would have looked very carefully at the global market … relative to other markets in the world Australia is still pretty good,” he says.


“They’ve also seen the successful opening phase of Zara in this country and the work of companies like Westfield, which is good at bringing international retailers to Australia.”


Walker says Topshop will almost certainly open a series of flagship stores in Australia because “the brand is really accentuated from that”.


“They’re very directional and will therefore challenge a lot of our fashion retailers. Their speed to market, access to global markets and pricing strategy are their main advantages,” he says.


“I think the challenge will be good for Australian retailers as long as they don’t lose their local flavor … they should appeal to their local communities through grassroots work.”


According to Walker small retailers should carve out a “localised idea” for their brand – referencing some aspect of Australian culture – in the same way that Topshop creates characters for each of its new lines.


“Ask yourself what are we unique for? What’s great about us? But incorporate that with an international flavor – speed and global touch are starting to dominate the retail sector,” he says.

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