Retail reflections from the Road – part one

Blogging hasn’t been front of mind for me over the past 10 days of so.  Indeed, I have been fixated on consuming burgers, seeing sights, reading roadsigns and booking hotel/motel rooms as I traipse down through California towards San Diego.

Nevertheless, I thought I’d take this opportunity to relate my an early experience in my travels to previous posts on this here Blog.

In San Francisco I had the opportunity to experience Aussie shopping centre giant Westfield‘s US expansion.  They had done a fine job of branding and delivering a suitably slick real estate and retail offering.

There were a couple of Aussie retailers on display (Napoleon Perdis and courier-bagsters Crumpler), as well as the expected mix of US and international chains.  I was disappointed by Zara and H&M‘s offerings (their clothes didn’t seem quite as flashy yet utilitarian as they do in Europe).

I was more impressed by the offerings of Martin+Osa, a fashion house that it turns out is a brand extension from the more ubiquitous and mainstream American Eagle Outfitters.  These two brands serve as a strong reminder of the sheer size and scale of the US market and the limited need for US retailers to internationalise.  American Eagle is yet to spread its wings beyond Canada, while Martin+Osa only has stores in 17 states.  Nevertheless they are able to offer decent quality clothing at their respective (surprisingly low) price points.  Australia-only fashion retailers would simply not be able to compete at that level.

The presence of Perdis and Crumpler remind us that Aussie retailers really do need a neat point of difference to justify tackling the US scene (and beyond).

More on retail in the coming days…

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2 Responses to “Retail reflections from the Road – part one”

  1. Ben Says:

    So if Aussie retailers have a problem with a small market, its near impossible for somewhere like NZ right? DOesn’t that justify a bit of protectionism?

    • Andre Sammartino Says:

      Not if they get the concept right…but it will tend towards the differentiation advantages. Kathmandu (adventure clothing and equipment) stands as a pretty strong NZ retail endeavour, as does Pumpkin Patch (kiddie clothing).

      Not sure protectionism is overly necessary. Such small markets, especially when geographically isolated tend have natural barriers to entry (i.e. inward investors will struggle to build much scale anyway).

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