On Friday 28 September, the leaders of Australian retail came together to discuss a matter that’s on all top retailers’ minds this year: ‘Taking Australian Retail Global’. The exclusive CEO Breakfast event hosted by the Retail Doctor Group successfully brought together the leaders and influencers of the Australian retail industry to facilitate an exchange of ideas around this topical issue. Central to this discussion was an inside look at T2’s journey to global retail, presented by the CEO of this iconic Australian brand, Nicole Sparshott, herself.

Retail Doctor Group’s CEO, Brian Walker, launched off the discussion with a look at the path to building a global presence experienced by some of our most beloved Aussie brands, including Lorna Jane, Kikki.K, Bunnings, Harvey Norman, Bakers Delight, Smiggle and ANZ. Walker explored both the common factors and points of difference in each brand’s journey, contextualising the successes seen by some of these retailers and the rocky uptake in foreign markets experienced by others. Walker also shared his own experiences in helping grow international brands.

The key takeaway in all of this is: even a tried and tested business model isn’t guaranteed to succeed everywhere. The factors that make a brand a raging success in Australia won’t automatically transfer into the dynamics of a different marketplace. Retailers need to prioritise sourcing key insights through consumer and market research before entering each new market. In Walker’s words, “strategy without insights is like surgery with a blunt scalpel.”

With the stage of ‘Taking Australian Retail Global’ set, T2’s Nicole Sparshott took the floor and led the group through some of the challenges faced by the iconic Australian brand as they expanded first across Australia and then globally. Sparshott revealed that breaking into new markets was a lot more complex than they had originally anticipated. Each new location – New York, London, Singapore, China – came with its own unique set of challenges.

The conclusion was, there is no one-size-fits-all model, even within the same country, and sometimes, the same city. Sparshott stressed that successful expansion is critically linked to a brand’s adaptability and willingness to re-evaluate and innovate in each new setting. Like Walker, Sparshott highlighted the importance of understanding your consumer and what they want. This means accessing the right consumer and market insights for each new location to answer questions like, ‘how can I integrate my brand into the new market’s existing lifestyle habits?’

The intimate ‘fireside chat’ setting encouraged a free flow of ideas from the attending retail leaders. Thought-provoking discussions were raised around the intricacies involved in adapting a working business model to different markets and continually accessing what’s working and what isn’t… whilst still remaining true to the brand’s roots and founding principles.

Brian Walker and the team at Retail Doctor Group are noted retail experts, experienced in helping retailers get Fit for Business™, grow their offer and expand off-shore. Brian Walker can be reached on +61 2 9460 2882 to discuss your business goals.