“The Australian market is important for Pierre Lannier, because it is a mature market with an interesting purchasing power,” Pierre Lannier export director Martial Butscher told Inside Retail.
“People are responsive to our design, and to the Made in France aspect.”
Pierre Lannier is already successful in Japan, Korea and China, and Butscher expects similar success in Australia.
The pandemic has impacted some bricks-and-mortar stores all over the world, particularly in larger settings that rely on international travellers.
“The retail store sales are OK, but stores [that depend] on tourism like department stores and multiple store chains have been heavily impacted,” Butscher said.
Sales during the 12 last months are below 2019 figures due to a lack of advertising, which Butscher said is directly linked to the business insecurity, but she is hopeful that sales will pick up with increased marketing next year.
“We really hope that 2022 will allow us to be able to invest in marketing campaigns again,” she said.
Return of luxury hair accessories brand
Hair accessories business Valerie Valentine is hoping it will be second time lucky for the brand’s Australian expansion. The brand entered the Australian market via an importer a few years back and was selling through David Jones and other retailers prior to the pandemic.
“The Australian [consumers] liked our collection very much,” Valérie Valentine designer Valerie Dassa told Inside Retail.
During the pandemic, the business struggled during lockdowns but thanks to its longstanding relationships with customers, nobody cancelled their orders.
“In Europe, [our customers] didn’t stop buying and also our partner in Hong Kong really played the game so even if the turnover was less, this helped a lot to keep the company stable,” she said.
While the beginning of the year was difficult, Valérie Valentine had enough turnover to keep the brand going and as the months went on, business gradually improved.
“The sales began to increase in July, and have been back to normal since September,” Dassa said.
The business also increased turnover with the launch of a new online store, which it continues to promote through marketing campaigns.
Valérie Valentine produces luxury hair ornaments that incorporate Swarovski crystals in the design. Travelling is Dassa’s main source of inspiration for her collections, but with many countries opting to close their borders during the pandemic and restrictions on movement, she had to think a little differently.
“I thought that after all those months people spent at home, they would like to have something that will brighten their day,” she said.
“I put a lot [of emphasis on] colours and beautiful materials, something that we can keep for years, not just to wear one time, but without being too classic.”
Her strategy appears to be paying off, with customers now buying with confidence again and spending more per transaction now than prior to the pandemic.
Dassa is hopeful that Australian customers will embrace the brand.
“I would love to extend this story in Australia by finding the right [export partner], knowing that we already had a successful experience,” she said.
“I hope this dream will come true.”
Art de Vivre
Hong Trang, Business France coordinator for ASEAN and Australia, is hopefully that the brand’s trendy and sustainable approach will pique the interest of buyers, agents, retailers and distributors in the region.
“This initiative is designed to help those professionals discover new niche French brands in the sectors of Fashion and Accessories,” Trang told Inside Retail.
“We hope that the French Lifestyle and the « French Art de Vivre », represented by those trendy, creative and eco-fashion brands coming from France, will contribute to the local market dynamism.”
Trang said French brands are struggling to reach new customers as a result of Covid-19.
“Local agents and distributors are unable to launch new brands at the moment due to a lack of personnel or they have to adjust strategic decisions regarding their brand portfolio in this unstable period,” she said.
“On the other hand, stores and shopping centres have been closed for a long time due to the pandemic, people have a tendency to stay home/work from home other than shop for clothes or accessories.”