Fossil fuels growth with new store concept

Fossil-watches-interiorFossil’s latest store, which opened at Pacific Fair on the Gold Coast on August 20 as part of the centre’s third stage of its $670 million redevelopment, showcases the new concept for the clothing and accessories retailer.

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The Pacific Fair shop is the first new Fossil store to reveal this concept, although it was launched earlier this year in April in Fossil’s revamped Chadstone store in Melbourne, Australia’s original Fossil store, which is now almost 20-years-old.

Formed in 1984 in Dallas, Texas, Fossil arrived in Australia around 1997, through franchise partners, and became a subsidiary of the global American company in 2004. Globally, the company now has over 400 stores, including those in Australia.

There are 17 full price stores across most states of mainland Australia, except for South Australia. Fossil stores are concentrated in Victoria and NSW, with six in each of those states, as well as six outlet concepts in DFOs. Expansion into South Australia and New Zealand is part of Fossil’s 2016 strategy.

The new store concept is modern and sleek, while maintaining a nod to Fossil’s vintage inspiration. It’s new, but staying true to the Fossil DNA of highlighting the product, Fossil Group’s head of retail, Carla Cowan, explained.

“The product is the hero,” she said. “[The concept] is very modern. In our previous concept there was a lot of darker wood, fixtures and floorboards with very dark trellises on the ceiling.

“The new concept has gone very light, with very high ceilings, grey slate tiles. The walls are like a beech wood; the lights are recessed into the high ceilings – they are no longer on lighting tracks, and the shelving is lighter in colour with a light wood trim.”

The store layout has also changed. The centre of the store used to have a show ring configuration, with watches inside. But the new layout features freestanding floor fixtures, with the watches in cabinets on the wall so they’re more accessible for customers.

“It’s very inviting for our customers,” Cowan said. “They are able to walk through the whole store, walk in and around our fixtures; they’re not divided by a counter. So our staff are able to interact in their own personal way with our customers.”

The new concept also incorporates larger windows accompanied by more – and larger – light boxes and bright visuals to attract passers-by.

At 100sqm, the Pacific Fair store presents the optimum size for the business, Cowan said.

“That is a perfect size,” Cowan said of the 100sqm of floorspace at Pacific Fair. “It gives enough room to have a decent back of house – maybe 10 per cent of that, and the rest for shopfront.”

Store size has varied over the years, as Fossil tried to establish the ideal footprint for the Australian market. A lot of research went into that, including from the global head office in Dallas and the regional store design team, which is based in Singapore.

Expansion plans
As well as store design, store expansion strategy is also a focus for Cowan and her team.

“We’re really looking for strategic locations now,” Cowan outlined. “Fossil is benchmarking itself against international players, so we’ll only go into a mall now if there is a big representation of international players.”

Fossil therefore prefers to position its stores either next to the accessories precinct of shopping centres near brands such as Swarovski, Pandora and Sunglass Hut, or in the fashion precinct near internationals retailers such as H&M and Zara.

“As they’re coming more and more into the Australian market, we want to position ourselves next to those brands,” Cowan explained. “But from a local perspective, we try to be next to our local competitors, like Mimco and Oroton.”

Though ladies handbags are tracking really well for Fossil, watches are still its primary category. And that category is constantly evolving.

“Because they’re affordable, made very well, and are good designs,” Cowan said of the ever-changing watch category. “What we find is that the women come in to buy the handbags for themselves, and their boyfriends buy the watches for themselves while they’re in there, which is a win-win.”

Seasonal dress guidelines are suggested to staff and Fossil has a denim culture. This season’s range focuses on a denim on denim feel. A layered look is also encouraged.

“We want the accessories on top of that,” Cowan said. “We sell a range of jewellery as well, and we encourage staff to wear the jewellery and show customers how to complete an outfit with our accessories.”

An initiative for the coming season sees Fossil focusing on personalisation, which involves embossing people’s names or initials onto items, such as leather products. Fossil is looking at offering this as a same day service at key locations in pop-up stores within stores.

“We’ll offer free embossing, so customers can personalise items, Cowan explained. “Whether it be wallets, keychains, passport holders or other gift giving items, Fossil has a whole range of giftables.”

Fossil will be offering this service leading up to Christmas, starting in October.

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