If you haven’t heard already then where have you been people? After months of speculation, UK retail group Arcadia opened their first pop-up Topshop and Topman shops in South Africa in July. Marking yet another international retailer to set up shop in Africa, are we seeing signs now that retail in Africa is on the up…the market is ripe and getting ready. Particularly luxury brands such as Burberry Group expanding into South Africa due to a growing middle class, it seems some retailers are getting in there early whilst they can to test out the consumers appetite for a UK style clothing retailer.
The pop-up store is actually a store-within-a-store and it opened up at Cape Town’s Unknown Union retail outlet, located on Kloof Street, and you will be open for business until the end of October. We are heading down to South Africa in October so plan to check out this store in Cape Town.
Topshop is a very popular store internationally now with already three US stores trading in the US, and is known for strong collaborations too. Alongside its brother store Topman, is recognised as one that is trendy, reasonably prices and plays on shoppers desire to be able to buy into designer style product soon after they are see on the catwalk.
David Shepherd, Managing Director of Topman said about the launch:
“We are delighted to be showcasing within Unknown Union. The store has a great design aesthetic and carries some excellent brands so we are very pleased to be part of the mix,” and that “He said: “South Africa’s vibrant and growing fashion scene make this a natural and relevant next step for us.”
It is clear that Topshop will open a stand-alone store in Johannesburg in South Africa due to news that a new store franchise will expect to open there this November 2012. This 950 sq m flagship store in Sandton City is opening through a franchise agreement with Edcon and House of Busby. This comes at the most preempt time where we do see many American as well as European retailers seeking opportunities and setting up on the continent and so if the reaction for the pop-up in Cape Town continues to do well it would make sense for the Jo’burg store to go forward as planned and marks the retailers 37th country in which they operate. This also follows a very high profile tie-up with respectable US department store Nordstrom where Topshop and Topman concessions will be held in a selection of its stores from September.
Arcadia Owner Sir Philip Green comments that
“This represents another step in our continued international growth, and I am confident that the South African customers will enjoy the retail experience and fantastic product offer that both our brands will deliver for them.”
Retailers such as Mango who opened its first retail store in Lagos in 2009, is seeking to have a presence in Nigeria’s major cities according to online site How we made it in Africa. Zara of spanish retail group Inditex, launched its first South African store in Jo’burg last year 2011 and another one in Durban, South Africa this year March. Also in March this year, after reports that they are using South Africa as a base to test out a continent wide explosion, Gap Inc opened for business in South Africa.
But Arcadia Owner Sir Philip Green has not stopped there. Topshop is due to launch a second store set in the Gateway shopping centre by the end of this year as well as to roll-out many more stores in major centres across the country.
What we feel is the best result of such a launch by such a recognised retailer is that it highlight the South African market as attractive and open for business and thus shows its strong market entry potential for many other UK clothing brands to test out for themselves. South Africa admittedly is the most developed country on the African continent whose economy and infrastructure is reasonably stable. They do well to set an example but with a soft risk by a pop-up test, which builds brand awareness and also through a collaboration with an equally strong retail brand helps to increase local market knowledge and avert any high risk potential to the UK retail group.
Author: Jacqueline Shaw – AFG Director