International clothing retailers still on the rise in SA | Fin24
 
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International clothing retailers still on the rise in SA

Nov 04 2015 13:35
Buhle Ndweni
Cotton On store front

Cotton On storefront (picture supplied)

Increased demand for globally recognised fashion brands has led to an influx of trendy international fashion retailers onto South African shores over the past couple of years.

And despite the common belief that tough economic times would slow the growth of these international brands as consumers experience increased financial pressure, these fashion retailers are still on the rise in SA. 

The power of social media and online retailing (e-commerce) has made the retail space more competitive, as consumers can see the latest international fashion trends in real time.

The availability of these international brands in SA offers fashion-forward consumers a better shopping experience. Consumers can keep up with global trends, something SA-based fashion retailers fail to do as they order ahead of season. 

Spanish fashion retailer Zara, which entered SA in 2012, will be opening store number seven at the end of the year. Merchandise is delivered in stores twice per week in response to items demanded by customers.

Sweden-based fashion retailer H&M will also be joining international fashion retailers in the SA market when it launches its first store at the V&A Waterfront’s The Victoria Wharf Centre in Cape Town next month.

Meanwhile, beginning September, Australian fashion retailer Cotton On Group – which entered SA’s fashion retail scene in 2011 and currently has 130 stores in SA – announced plans to double the size of its local business by opening 100 new stores within the next 12 months; 40 new stores by Christmas and another 60 in the first half of 2016. 

While the group has no immediate plans to further expand into other countries on the continent, it opened its first two stores in Namibia in May this year, under its Johannesburg-based regional hub Cotton On South Africa.  

The fashion trends can, of course, go either way. With Australia and SA sharing the same climate, Cape Town-based retailer Woolworths also made a number of acquisitions in Australia, with David Jones being the latest last year.

And earlier this year, local fashion-for-value retailer Mr Price, which has performed well across the African continent, also announced plans to open stores in the Australian cities of Melbourne and Sydney.

Cotton On Group CFO Michael Hardwick says as a fashion retailer with a presence in 17 countries, both in the southern and northern hemisphere, there are fashion trends that resonate with its brands across the globe. “These are really driven by access to social media and the internet as well. There’s lots of consistency now in sellers in SA and Australia, Brazil and parts of Asia,” says Hardwick, adding that they will introduce products into a market where they see localised opportunities.

This article originally appeared in the 17 September 2015 edition of finweek. Buy and download the magazine here.

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