Let battle begin, says Myer chief
Far from flinching in the face of one of the biggest competitive onslaughts in Myer's 113-year history, the boss of the nation's biggest department store, Bernie Brookes, is ready for battle as Swedish retail giant H&M prepares to open next door.
Already locking horns with Spanish fast-fashion phenomenon Zara, which opened a flagship store close by in the Bourke Street mall, Myer - like other home-grown stores - is also combating a vigorous invasion by other overseas retailers to Australia such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Uniqlo, Topshop and ASOS as well as a flight to sales online.
But Mr Brookes said Myer was well prepared for a fresh front from H&M, which will soon unveil a 5000-square-metre department store in the GPO building, with the retailer sharpening its youth offering and quickening the time it takes to get clothes from its Chinese factories to its stores.
"They [H&M] are more linked towards the Target customer than they are to the Myer customer but they will impact, for example, our youth business so for us it's about making sure that we have a fast-fashion offer in youth which we are working more and more on," Mr Brookes said.
"We have now reduced the time from the factory in Shenzhen into our stores down to less than 23 days and that's about competing with the H&Ms of the world and making sure that our entry price points are competitive," he said.
Next door to Myer's own flagship city store, the H&M site will be one of the multinational's largest.
H&M has gained a strong following, especially among younger shoppers and is known for its collaborations with designers such as Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, Viktor & Rolf and Madonna.
H&M Australia says its first Australian store will be a "full concept flagship store" with apparel, underwear and accessories for men, women, children and babies, and "fashion for every room in the house" with its H&M home line.
It comes as retailers such as Myer urge Canberra to scrap the $1000 GST-free threshold on imported goods, which allows people to shop online on overseas sites and avoid paying GST.
But far from worrying about a flood of customers choosing to walk past Myer and turn into H&M or Zara, Mr Brookes believes the arrival of H&M will attract more people to the mall.
"So it's actually a benefit to us. The problem is when they are located away from us that means they can attract customers away, but it's a bit like a honey pot, gets them all into the one area."