Debenhams on horizon spells increased competition

Debenhams2Another iconic global brand that could be destined for New Zealand is the archetypal UK department store Debenhams.

In addition, rumours abound that Zara is ferreting about for locations in Auckland and Wellington while Canadian retailer, Kit and Ace, is set to launch a pop up shop in Auckland’s Britomart toward the end of 2016. Cashmere goat hair comprises the main component of its clothing stock.

The arrival of Debenhams in NZ would follow the department store’s entry into Australia via Pepkor in 2016 in due course.

Pepkor, part of the international retail giant, Steinhoff Group, and owner of Australian department store chain, Harris Scarfe, will become a franchise partner of Debenhams in the deal, which will see Debenhams enter the southern hemisphere in a phrased-entry approach for the first time.

The UK department store trades out of more than 240 stores across 27 countries, and in the UK has a top three market position in womenswear and menswear and a top 10 share in childrenswear. It holds the number two market position in premium health and beauty.

Jason Murray, MD of Pepkor South East Asia, said, “We are delighted to have secured this partnership with Debenhams. The wholesale arrangement will augment our efforts to revitalise and grow the Harris Scarfe business, while the franchise stores will complement our Harris Scarfe stores and add to our back office scale.”

Murray said the stores will be contemporary, smaller scale flagships “which will be genuine modern department stores”.

Harris Scarfe will manage the three-pronged agreement which will see Debenhams product, including the famous “Designers at Debenhams” range, wholesaled and retailed within selected Harris Scarfe stores; standalone Debenhams franchise stores open in flagship retail centres; and a dedicated Debenhams led e-commerce channel launch in Australia.

Debenhams’ entry to NZ would take place through Pepkor’s association with Postie+. Pepkor effectively rescued the Postie Plus brand in NZ last year.

NZ’s department stores such as Ballantynes, Smith & Caughey’s and Farmers are predicted to feel the increased global competition, which is already commencing with the imminent launch of David Jones.

Even though Kiwis are excited about the advent of Debenhams to their country, some of its trends are not everyone’s cup of tea as seen in Lorraine Morgan’s “Used to love these in the nineties. Nice to see them back” on the pictured boots to Charlotte Khalagy’s “Ugh..what is it with heels and ankle socks?..ugliest trend ever, as bad as socks and sandals”.


When asked what other global brands would be appreciated in NZ, Walmart, Ikea and Eastbay came up.

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