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1. Honey Birdette: never underestimate the challenge of going global

As Honey Birdette starts to build momentum in the UK market, managing director Eloise Monaghan revealed the journey has not been without its challenges. "One of the biggest and most shocking learnings was when we first opened our Covent Garden store last year." After signing a 250,000 pound lease, the brand soon received a letter from the council. "It was a 125,000 pound land tax bill. We've probably put $5 million into the UK in the past twelve months and now, we can finally see the dial starting to turn," Monoghan revealed. Brands should also be aware of higher shopfront construction costs: a UK Honey Birdette site averages out at 95,000 pounds over $45,000 in Australia. Other key learnings included the importance of a dedicated country manager, localised promotions, relevant seasonal marketing campaigns and an understanding of product and sizing preferences. Monaghan advised brands to be aware of leasing differences, with its White City store undergoing months of negotiations. "We'd signed so we had to urgently get it open, there was no rent-free period. Our shopfit went triple the cost of Australia already, plus another 50,000 pounds because they have to have a say in [design]."


2. R.M Williams: the importance of retaining craftsmanship

R.M Williams revealed it has launched a critical partnership with the South Australian government to preserve onshore manufacturing. The government is collaborating with the University of South Australia to create a bootmanking apprenticeship program, as well as skills development and training initiatives. R.M Williams CEO Raju Vuppalapati confirmed that as the retailer expands globally, with several stores slated for America's West Coast and Dallas over the next year, supply for the locally manufactured boots is at critical levels. "We are definitely constrained and we have been constrained for the last nine months. The demand for our boots exceeds our capabilites. The easiest option is to go offshore, but for our company, retaining that Australian provenance and skill is absolutely critical. We lose the magic and we lose the storytelling." He said the company is hiring around 150 men and women, with the expectation it will take six to 12 months for the workers to produce a good pair of boots. R.M Williams is aiming to double annual production in the next five years, from 200,000 boots a year to 400,000.


3. Pandora: understanding the optimum sales channel

It is the jewellery brand that has clocked annual compound growth of 30% since 2012. Pandora Australia managing director Mikael Kruse Jensen revealed the impressive figure is the result of a four-point turnaround plan, with Australia now boasting its most profitable store in the world. "From 2010 to 2012 we had a significant decline in our revenue," he admitted, noting price increases and market saturation as key culprits. Kruse Jensen said a core strategy since has been a branded approach to distribution, increasing concept store numbers from 82 in 2012 to 130 in 2017. "At the same time, we closed more than 400 multibranded stores and created a much more efficient network. Now 76% of our revenue is coming from concept stores where it was around 50/50 in 2012." Kruse Jensen said that only 20% of the jewellery business is branded, compared to 50% in leather goods. "Our Pitt Street store in Sydney employs 50 people and is the highest revenue generator in the world. Worldwide, among all Pandora stores, this is number one."


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