Debenhams has announced it will enter the Australian market for the first time next year.
The department store group has signed an agreement with Pepkor SE Asia, a subsidiary of the Steinhoff group, to distribute selected Debenhams brands into Pepkor’s Harris Scarfe stores. It will then open Debenhams franchise stores.
A new localised Australian website will be launched in 2016.
Debenhams chief executive Michael Sharp said: “International expansion is a key strategic priority for us. Selling our own brands outside of Debenhams offers a new leg of growth for the business and we believe that the Australian market holds a lot of potential. Our product range translates well and many consumers are aware of our brands and designers.”
Jason Murray, managing director of Pepkor south east Asia, added: “The wholesale arrangement will augment our efforts to revitalise and grow the Harris Scarfe business, while franchise stores will complement our HS stores and add to our back office scale. These stores will be contemporary, smaller scale flagships which we believe will be Australia’s first genuine modern department stores.”
Debenhams has also agreed to sell some if its brands in Vietnam through department stores owned by VinGroup.
Debenhams’ franchised store network expanded to 70 during the year, following openings in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines, Russia and Romania. The group also closed five underperforming stores.
The department store group has agreed to open 11 new franchise stores over the next three years with another 13 in negotiation. It did not provide a breakdown of locations.
Debenhams will also launch a new international website this month, which will make local currency and local payment options available in several European markets. Local language websites will follow in 2016.
Debenhams operates 248 stores in 27 countries and is available online in more than 60 countries.
Today (October 22) Debenhams reported a 7.3% increase in profit before tax to £113.5m for the year to August 29, while chief executive Michael Sharp announced he will step down from his role in 2016.