‘More urgency’ needed for future launches

michael hillMichael Hill CEO Phil Taylor says more comprehensive test and trial phases will inform its future international launches, following the retailer’s announcement yesterday to exit its loss making business in the United States.

Speaking to Inside Retail after informing the market that the business has begun the process of engaging with landlords and brokers to end its presence in the US, Taylor said more urgency is needed for future launches to ensure definitive outcomes are set.

“With any new business and start-up – and we’ve been through this with each country we’ve entered – we need to make sure we have the test and trial set up with much more definitive outcomes and set dates to kick goals,” Taylor said.

Michael Hill’s US operations had been weighing on the company for some time, most recently booking a 10 per cent decline in same-store sales for the first half of fiscal 18.

Taylor said the company will look to wrap up operations in the US as soon as possible, with negotiations to potentially offload locations to other brands currently underway.

Yesterday Michael Hill also announced a plan to reposition its fashionable jewellery brand Emma & Roe to shift further down the market towards the so-called ‘demi-fine’ segment.

Taylor said the brand’s renewed trial phase would kick off in the next six months with the launch of a new concept store and a relaunch of its website.

“We don’t want to invest in all the shops we have with this re-position, we do need to trial and test it yet again to mitigate risk, so we’ll be doing that over the next 12 – 18 months,” Taylor said.

From there Taylor signalled that it could be 3-4 years before the Emma & Roe portfolio is able to generate positive like-for-like growth as a whole.

As many as 30 stores will be closed though, depending on how lease renegotiations with landlords go in the coming months.

 Taylor said he will look to leverage Michael Hill’s 172 stores in Australia to bed down a better deal for Emma & Roe.

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