Melbourne will be home to Debenham’s first Australian outlet as the iconic British retailer pushes ahead with its expansion into the southern hemisphere.
According to the Australian Financial Review, the department store is expected to sign up for a 4000sq m space in a newly redeveloped building the heart of downtown Melbourne.
A date for the store’s opening in Australia’s second largest city has not yet been confirmed.
The news follows a franchise agreement between Debenhams and retail investment company Pepkor South East Asia late last year, with long term plans to open 10 stores across Australia.
The announcement also follows the department store chain’s weak revenue reports this week as demand for clothing dropped amid “uncertain trading conditions”.
Debenhams reported a 1.6% fall in like-for-like sales for the 15 weeks to June 11 and noted that its profits margins were likely to be lower than previously predicted.
Group like-for-likes rose slightly by 0.2% in the third quarter and 0.7% in the 41 weeks to the same date. Online sales grew 7% in the quarter.
In April this year, Debenhams e-commerce director Ross Clemmow told the Sydney Morning Herald that Australia was the company’s biggest online market outside the UK, making up about one third of international sales and 47% of international orders.
Debenhams’ arrival in Australia will not be all smooth sailing – it will face stiff competition from local department store rivals Myer and David Jones.
The British department store chain is also the latest international UK retail brand to target Australia shoppers following the high-profile launch of Topshop – plus international names Zara, Uniqlo and H&M – all in the last four years.