Blog: Is exclusivity the sincerest form of flattery in retailing?

Garland_double_headshotMyer and DJs recent skirmish over the coveted prize of Sass & Bide raises some interesting questions about the lure of exclusivity…

Robert and Phoebe Garland run and own Garland & Garland Fashion, a leading fashion agency based in Sydney. which also offers business mentoring & project management of marketing to the fashion industry.

It seems to be an unspoken rule in the fashion industry that exclusivity is in high demand for most retailers when purchasing fashion labels. However this is not always the case. When a successful label gets around, particularly if it’s a good seller, all hell can break loose, especially when retailers start to expand their business.

One of the biggest frustrations of being an agent is when a retailer with an existing store decides to open another outlet in a heavily over-supplied area, which already has established accounts in place. They then of course want to put the brands they are selling into that area, which can cause all sorts of upset and frustration with the result that we, as agents can become the meat in the sandwich.

Garland_Sass___Bide_oneThe irony about all this is that “it never rains but it pours”; we have certain suburbs where there are no accounts and then some suburbs all fighting for ‘exclusivity’. Understandably the established account in a given area becomes very indignant should a chain store open with their brands.

Of course we always do our utmost to keep our integrity and advise the invading retailer that there is a stockist in that area already, and that we are unable to supply them for that area. However, if truth be told, insome instances retailers promise they will only buy for their one store, before taking stock over to their other stores despite knowing full well there is an existing account in that area.

Apparently it’s not only small retailers that are engaged in this battle. In this country most labels will either be in one department store or the other, rarely in both. And the fight to secure brand exclusivity is always hotly contested between the two.

Indeed, just this week we have seen two department stores in a well publicised skirmish to buy leading fashion label Sass & Bide (pictured), with Myer securing the win, reportedly outlaying $42.5 million and purchasing a 65 per cent stake in the company.

According to recent online media reports, David Jones reportedly saying they were offered to buy the brand, but knocked it back due to “lack of growth” in the Sass & Bides business…

This high profile stand-off has piqued our interest… What are your thoughts? Is competing with your rivals by copying strategies or labels really the best way to go?

As always we would love to hear your thoughts contact us info@garlands.com.au or
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