In this new series with speakers at Ragtrader Live 2019, Sussan GM Rebecca Hard reveals a bold new strategy to keep an iconic 80-year-old brand ahead of the game. Ragtrader Live 2019 will feature our strongest lineup of leaders yet: grab your tickets here.

This year, Sussan unveiled a new direction, What prompted the decision?

We really wanted a campaign that would resonate with new customers.  As a brand we have a great story to tell and we wanted a new campaign direction which would tell that story. 

The team at Sussan have always kept the customer at the heart of all of our decision making – we are all women in the design and leadership teams and we know what is important to her.  We also wanted a campaign that would celebrate and inspire women. 

As women we all do everything for everyone first.  We always put ourselves last and our new campaign is about celebrating the strength of all of the women who shop with us and to make her the focus for at least one aspect of her life.  

How does the campaign and new direction differ to what Sussan has done so far?

We have taken a very strong fashion approach with our photography.  Our product has evolved considerably over the past five years and we needed a step change so that new customers who have not considered our brand in the past – would see the new campaign and understand the evolution.

80 years is a big milestone – how is the retailer celebrating this anniversary and how has it evolved over that period?

80 years in an incredible milestone.  I would say that as a brand we continually evolve and innovate.  You need to stay relevant to the customer in such a crowded and competitive retail market.  But ultimately – you must innovate your product offering and services in ways that are important to her. 

If it is not right for our customer, there is no point in making that change.

This year as we celebrate women in our new brand campaign, we will also be celebrating some wonderful women from many different fields. I am incredibly excited that we are able to share these inspirational stories this year and we will be hosting our first Sussan ‘Only For Women’ dinner in February.  The dinners will become a regular event and we look forward to giving women a platform to tell their own stories. 

What have been some key achievements over the last 80 years?

I think one of the greatest achievements has been our sustained success over the past 80 years.  Our business started in 1939 as  lingerie store.  In the 70’s – apparel was added to the offer and that has now grown to be almost 80% of our total business. 

In the 1980’s we had the incredibly successful “This Goes With That” campaign, which is still well recognised today.  We have since added accessories to our offer, maternity and continue to develop product across all categories that are modern and sophisticated for today’s woman.

What are the key challenges/opportunities you see in the market today and why?     

Retail is a fantastic industry and has always had its challenges. 

However there are always opportunities if you look for them.  As a leadership team we have a number of opportunities that are both short and long term and we feel very strongly, that if you know your customer intimately, you will instinctively know which opportunities are right.  You also need to take some risk at times, especially when you are a successful business. 

It is important to innovate and try new ideas to test the waters.  Some ideas won’t be successful, but largely they either work or give you key learnings that take you forward. A constant evolution keeps you relevant in today’s market and also keeps you differentiated within a crowded market.

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