In this special online series with Fordham, ragtrader.com.au sits down for five fast questions with five industry leaders. Here, the CEO of one of the largest apparel groups in Australia discusses strategy, outlook and the broader retail climate.
The PAS Group: CEO Eric Morris
What were some of the key operational achievements for PAS Group this year?
The key operational achievements have been as follows:
- The continued growth of our online business through both our own websites as well as third party platforms across a number of brands in the portfolio.
- We have set up an infrastructure in the US to facilitate the growth of JETS and Bondi Bather. We have also appointed agents in the UK, Switzerland, Norway, Russia, Thailand and Canada and continuing to set up other international markets for growth in addition to growth in Australia and New Zealand. We have launched a new distribution centre out of Hong Kong to cope with the international expansion.
- We have launched a comprehensive Resortwear range for JETS to support the lifestyle positioning of the brand.
- We have launched Review Kids in David Jones as well as our own online store.
- Expanded the portfolio of brands out of our Designworks Division to include Lonsdale and Russell Athletic as well as re launching the Mix brand in Coles, we have also expanded the Designworks Foowear division to support the new brands.
- Relaunched our Suburban brands in Target.
- Expanded the BOD by Rachel Finch brand.
- Launched Review on the Alibaba T mall platform in China.
What were some of the best performing brands in your portfolio and what gave them a competitive advantage?
The star performers have been Designworks through new brands and categories and JETS through strong product ranges, new markets and Resortwear. Yarra Trail and Marco Polo have continued their strong performance through excellent product ranges and the growth of online. Review also continues to grow in online as well as our own stores.
How was the retail climate this year and how do you see it going into the new year?
Trading conditions have been challenging, driven by a number of macroeconomic factors that weighed heavily on discretionary spending, this was compounded by the late onset of winter which resulted in a high level of promotional activity across the market in order to manage inventory levels.
I see much of the same environment moving forward into the new year with house prices starting to fall in some cities, most notably in Sydney.
What do you see as the biggest challenge ahead for retailers?
The biggest challenge ahead for retailers is the economic environment coupled with the amount of competition through online and the continued high level of leasing costs.
What's ahead for PAS Group in 2019?
There are a number of growth areas that we are focussing on. We are also placing a strong focus on improving our results in our Review concession business. We will continue to place a strong emphasis on our digital business with a number of new initiatives underway.
A key element for the PAS group moving forward is the transition of my CEO and MD role after nearly 14 years. Having led and built the business from the start in 2005 through to our 2014 listing on the ASX to where it is today, I will be handing over the leadership of the group to Paul Burdekin who recently joined us in the capacity of chief commercial officer. Paul will transition into my role over the next seven months.
Post the transition I will remain on the board of PAS as a non- executive director.