Founder, Manning Cartell
    GABRIELLE MANNING Founder, Manning Cartell

Australian luxury designer Manning Cartell co-founder Gabrielle Manning discusses retail expansion, product rangings and how they've grown in the digital realm.

How is Manning Cartell looking to grow their retail presence over the next 12 months?

Melbourne is where we're looking at that growth and we are just opening a store in High Street Armidale which has just literally happened.

It's a fantastic strip now, it's got such a great mix of Australian designers.

What are the key performing markets for Manning Cartell?

Melbourne has definitely been performing very strongly for us, so has Perth followed by Sydney. So they'd be our top three, we're also in Queensland but they'd be our strongest performers at the moment.

I think what's interesting even online is we're finding the customer is very much focused on new collections and full price which is interesting.

12 months ago, we were finding more sales shoppers but now in the last three months, we're finding they're focused on full price and new season.

Have you made any back end changes to things like supply or logistics?

Not really to be honest with you. From inception, we started with a fairly advanced system for a start-up which was Harmony.

That's been able to carry us through from feeding materials, creating styles through to warehousing to point of sale in store and distribution and so on so we haven't really needed to upgrade any of that.

I think for us, its more about advancing our online platform and being able to provide a more seamless experience between in store and online and then in the future looking to having storefronts for the US and the UK markets for customers shopping online.

Have there been any changes to rangings or product offers?

We've expanded a little bit more of our footwear collection, moving into jewellery a little bit.

We've even started limited edition exclusive pieces to our seven boutiques which is fantastic for us because we can trial a certain shape or style and if the customer responds well to it, we do manufacture locally so we can respond to that fairly quickly because we have our cutting room and makers local.

So I'd say our limited edition pieces that we can do through our stores is something we have been working on and I think that exclusivity as well, the customer is really liking.

It's incredible to be able to respond like that, the more you make off shore, it is challenging if you want a quick repeat. For us, we can go and cut another 20 units if we like which is very small if you're manufacturing offshore.

What are the key challenges you're seeing in the market and what do you think can be done to address, improve or change those for the Manning Cartell brand?

I feel like we've kind of come through a growth phase and learning with the whole digital realm.

Trying to stay focused on what you're doing and running your own race is a continual challenge but you have to keep focused and it's very easy to be distracted by everything that's going on and hearing what everyone is talking about.

When you have that clarity, and for us, I think we have that clarity, you don't tend to get so distracted.

There's a strength in that and I think we've got that real sense of clarity at the moment and its quite empowering because you know you're forging ahead running your own race. It's energising.

What are the key opportunities you're seeing for the next 12 months?

I think for us, getting closer to our customers. We're really happy with the footprint of our retail stores now so I think there's an opportunity to get even closer to our customers.

It's just a matter of making it a focus and now Armidale's open, once we've let that settle for the next few weeks, we're going to make the whole digital marketing and online platform a focus.

We're looking at the online platform, possibly shifting to something that's probably a bit more user friendly or have more capabilities so that we can be more agile with online and that's a big opportunity for us.

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