Want affordable high fashion? Sorry for you ... for now

Business

THE BOTTOM LINE

Want affordable high fashion? Sorry for you ... for now

Will the likes of Edgars manage to jack up their house brand products to make up for the loss of foreign labels?

Nick Hedley

Edcon’s ongoing shift towards locally-sourced products is a win for job creation but a loss for the fashion-conscious consumer.
Yes, the group’s decisions to exit chains like River Island and to shut the flagship Topshop store in Sandton make perfect business sense. These international brands are probably just too expensive for the South African consumer, whose disposable income has been going backwards in real terms.Partly because of bad timing, a number of Edcon’s international chains failed to gain real traction in South Africa. At the same time, Edcon has been struggling under a hefty debt burden and competition from more successful foreign chains Zara, H&M and Cotton On, so it is understandable that tough decisions needed to be made, and focusing on the core was probably the wise approach.
But Edcon’s woes are also the consumer’s. For those who could afford to shop there, Topshop and (the now closed) River Island offered what was arguably a far more impressive and trendy range of clothing than Edcon’s private label products.
If Edcon is going to make a success of its house-brand strategy over the long term, it will surely need to up its fashion game and get with the times.
Encouragingly for the group, data shows that private label products can work. According to a report by market research firm Nielsen, published in the second half of 2018, the private label retail category is growing faster than the branded products segment.
Partly because of how financially strained consumers are, “there is excellent growth potential within SA’s R43-billion private label retail category”, Nielsen said.

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