All Betts are winners

Betts Kids Werribee extraFifth-generation family business, Betts, is forging ahead with its three retail brands.

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The latest Betts Kids store opened late last month (August 27) in Victoria’s Pacific Werribee shopping centre, part of the centre’s new $670 million development. Now with 40 stores nationally, Betts Kids will open two more stores this year, with a further three planned for 2016.

Accompanying this is a store push by another Betts brand, Airflex. With 23 stores throughout Australia, over the next seven months through to March 2016, at least one Airflex store will be opened each month, for a total of eight new stores.

A third business brand, Betts For Her, has 26 stores throughout Australia at present and will also form part of the company’s broader business focus as all three key brands look to expand moving forward, Jason Rhine GM, Airflex and Betts Kids, told Inside Retail Weekly.

For over 120 years – since 2012, this WA-owned and operated company has evolved and grown, and stores are dotted throughout the country in each state and territory except for Tasmania.

Its brand ethos – dubbed ‘chiconomics’ – is a, “perfect fusion of chic style and value for money”.

Culminating in winning the 2014 Shoe Store of the Year award at the Roy Morgan Customer Satisfaction Awards (based on 12 months of data), one of the strengths of Betts’ longevity lies in its being a family run business.

The fifth-generation, including Rhine, is now working within the business in key roles.

“We are a family-run business and have been since day one, so we’re actually in the fifth-generation of family members who are actively working in the business,” Rhine said. “A family type culture has been instilled throughout our entire organization, and I think this encourages loyalty, commitment and dedication with staff, whether you’re in our distribution centre, head office or out in our retail stores – the culture is that we’re one big family.”

Betts Kids Werribee Interior

Expanding product off
Betts is now looking at offering a variety of products at different price points to enable it to broaden its product offer. However, “the 100 per cent focus on products that we design and develop is still on premium quality materials”, Rhine emphasised.

Originally in the generic Betts shops, there was a dense offering with, for example, mothers in store shopping with their children side-by-side, with teenagers looking for fashion products, and more mature customers looking for comfort-based footwear.

The business was originally a real family shoe store, offering a men’s range, a ladies range, and a children’s range, as well as both a comfort and fashion product.

“We tried to offer an environment for every type of customer which, back in those days [up to the 80s], was, for us, a very successful model.”

With changes in the market, as well as in customer behaviour and attitudes, it was realised that for the business to grow, it needed to specialise its offer within the shopping environment to ensure customers’ specific needs could be met.

“It wasn’t the right shopping environment to cater to our specific target markets, which was a huge realisation in us becoming a lot more specialised and being able to really drive our specific brands within the marketplace,” Rhine said.

The company then separated its key brands and businesses – the kids specialty stores was one of the first brands pulled out in the 80s. These Betts Kids stores are presented as fun and inviting for children and parents, Betts Group CEO, Danny Breckler, told Inside Retail Weekly. “Providing an opportunity for specialised service in the area of fitting to ensure young children’s footwear needs are looked after,” explained Breckler.

In 2008 the Airflex brand was pulled out, followed by Betts For Her in 2010.

The stand-alone Airflex stores offer men’s and women’s footwear focused on modern comfort to the 30-plus age group, and a chief focus – not surprisingly, with this growing demographic.

“We want to be in the key centres nationally, around 90sqm to 100sqm from a footprint point of view,” Rhine said.

The Airflex brand DNA is all about ‘modern comfort’.

“We take international fashion trends – integrate the key looks, colours and materials for the season, as well as the styling and the fashion that’s on trend internationally, but then we ensure that every single product that we design and develop provides extreme comfort,” he said.

In addition, Betts is working on providing customers with a ‘holistic store offering’ where they can shop for complementary products while shopping for their footwear.

The expansion in store numbers is also being accompanied by growth in the online offering for the businesses. “We have seen significant growth so far this year in our online business,” Rhine said. “I am working on some key strategies to continue to create a seamless shopping experience for our customers, whether it’s online or instore.”

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