‘For the next generation’:Strandbags dumps 95-year-old identity in brand makeover

Everybody wants to be cool,and Australian retailer Strandbags is no exception. Determined to shake off its reputation as a discount brand,the company is having a makeover to capture the discerning Millennial and Generation Z demographic.

“We really wanted to move from a discount retailer to a great value fashion and lifestyle brand,” said Strand chief executive Felicity McGahan.

Now operating under the name “Strand”,the travel and fashion retailer is tailoring products to a more diverse age range,including an emerging market of younger consumers.

CEO of the newly rebranded ‘Strand’,Felicity McGahan.

CEO of the newly rebranded ‘Strand’,Felicity McGahan.Supplied

“We needed to modernise to stay relevant,and we needed to evolve the business,or we were going to be at risk of ageing with our customers and losing relevance for the next generation,” said McGahan.

Strandbags has been a staple in shopping centres since 1927,with more than 250 stores throughout Australia and New Zealand. It sells a combination of its own lifestyle and travel brands along with global brands such as Calvin Klein,Samsonite and Guess.

As part of its revamp,Strand has shed 28 per cent of its products to create a more curated collection and launched more of its own brands.

While longtime shoppers of Strand will still be able to find many of the brands they know and love,the retailer now has a greater focus on attracting a more diverse market – from “eight to 80” – with a youth-oriented brand in the pipeline that will be launched in May 2023.

Strand’s private label brands Evity and Nere exceeded revenue targets in 2022.

Strand’s private label brands Evity and Nere exceeded revenue targets in 2022.Supplied

Strand’s move comes after the success of its two private labels,which were unveiled this year,Evity (leather goods) and Nere (travel and luggage). Both exceeded revenue targets,with Evity producing sales of more than $100 million in its first year.

After a tumultuous few years in the travel industry due to the pandemic,McGahan said Strand had delivered strong results,with growth up 17 per cent compared with pre-COVID figures. Handbag sales are up 19 per cent and travel bag sales up 30 per cent. Digital engagement has skyrocketed,with online traffic up 60 per cent.

The company is hoping to take advantage of Christmas spending and the holiday travel period by unveiling its new look ahead of the festive season.

“We thought launching in the peak was absolutely the right time,” McGahan said. “This is our grand final[for retailers]. This is where we bring joy to our customers.”

As interest rates rise and everyday Australians feel the pinch of inflation heading into Christmas,McGahan isn’t worried about customers curbing their spending on discretionary items such as handbags.

“For us,it’s making sure they’re getting incredible value ... We’ve got bags from $29 up to $249. Depending on your budget,there’s something for you,and that’s our role,to offer those options to our customers.”

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Billie Eder is a reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age

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