Alquemie Group and LEGO® Australia and New Zealand today announced the opening of Canberra’s first LEGO® Certified Store in the coming months.

LEGO Certified Stores are renowned across the globe as iconic retail experiences, with each store custom-built to include brick-built features that are tributes to imagination and creativity.

“With one of the most loyal and growing communities of brick fans in the country, Canberra has been on our radar for some time as an ideal venue for a new LEGO Certified Store.

We look forward to proudly unveiling an inspiring new retail experience for Canberra which showcases the creative potential of the world-famous LEGO brick.”
Richard Facioni
Executive Chairman of Alquemie Group

The custom-built store will be located at Canberra Centre with 250sqm of prime retail positioning and will offer one of the country’s widest selections of LEGO sets including limited editions, in addition to a portfolio of play experiences, activities and events available exclusively in store:

  • A large, wall mounted mosaic and a world-first 3D model of a local landmark – made by the Southern Hemisphere’s only LEGO Certified Professional, Ryan McNaught or ‘Brickman’;
  • Pick a Brick Wall – grab a cup and fill it with your choice of LEGO® bricks and elements, with endless combinations of shapes and colours to choose from.
  • Build a Minifigure Tower – mix and match from a wide selection of heads, hair, tops, bottoms and accessories to create a bespoke LEGO Minifigure collection;
  • Digital Box – scan almost any LEGO boxed set and watch it come to life in 3D, live on the wall-mounted screen in-store;
  • Brick Specialists: in-store experts can help brick fans of all ages select the perfect set, whether it’s a special gift, or a treat for the family’s resident LEGO fan.

Other iconic LEGO® Certified Stores are located in New York, London, Shanghai, Denmark, Dubai, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Auckland.


Alquemie Group, which operates Ginger & Smart, Surfstitch and AG Lego certified stores in Australia and New Zealand, has recently appointed Kerry Cusack as managing director of vertical brands

Earlier this year, the company also welcomed Matthew Robertson as its new group chief operating officer.

Cusack was previously head of international business at menswear specialty retailer Retail Apparel Group. Prior to that, she was general manager of PAS Group’s Bondi Bather and Jets Swimwear. She joined Alquemie last month.

Robertson, who joined the group in January, formerly held the group buying and marketing director position at WHSmith Australia. Prior to that, he was general manager of buying and general merchandise at Woolworths Group’s Big W.

Alquemie Group is one of the retail investment platforms chaired by Richard Facioni, former executive director of Alceon Group’s private equity portfolio. 

Facioni left Alceon in late January to establish a new boutique private equity firm, ACTA Capital.

ACTA and Alceon co-manage Mosaic Brands and Alquemie, with Facioni acting as chairman.

This story originally appeared in Inside Retail.


Sustainability continues to be the focus and driver for all GINGER & SMART collections, a trans-seasonal vanilla silk trench shows the simplicity of restraint, showcased alongside voluminous exaggerated versions of ready-to-wear pieces. The collection is designed to layer with textures and colours, tailored to the emotions of the individual.

Collaboration and creativity drove the partnerships for this GINGER & SMART Resort ’22 show. Australian multimedia artist Daniel O’Toole, whose work takes inspiration from light and space, complemented the runway through the creation of a contemporary, transcendental digital art work featuring the colours of the Resort ’22 collection. An original composition by long time GINGER & SMART collaborator, Gary Sinclair, featured electronic beats with soaring strings and hypnotic sounds of breath.

Showcased at Carriageworks’ Gallery I, Davide Giovanni choreographed the show, who was also on stage capturing the show live on one of two revolving stages which served as undulating runways. Caterina Scardino brought her styling precision, all under the baton of Creative Director, Alan Weekes.

This presentation unveiled an emotionally charged collection with a joyous mood, eliciting a new way of seeing, channeling the tenacity of the human spirit for 2021 and beyond.


Creativity and innovation are at the top of the priority list for Surfstitch this year, as the fashion retailer is set to develop a new range of initiatives, including its new third-party logistics service, a new app and product categories.

The e-commerce retailer went into voluntary administration in 2017 and was eventually acquired by Alceon Group, but according to managing director Justin Hillberg, the business has “never been healthier”. Surfstitch is more than 300-400 per cent up in net profitability and is now delivering record profits back to its shareholders.

“We’re in a really good position where we can talk about innovation and we haven’t been in that space for a few years”
Justin Hillberg
Managing Director, Surfstitch

“We’ve got a 10,000sqm fulfilment centre on the Gold Coast and over the last two years, we’ve been doing the fulfilment for one of our partner brands, which is EziBuy. Now [we’ve] set it up to offer the same service to other partners into 2021. We’ve done it really well, we’ve fine tuned it over 10 years. There aren’t a lot of good direct-to-consumer 3PLs out there.”

Surfstitch’s 3PL solution takes care of everything from warehousing, storage and logistics to customer returns management on behalf of brands. In addition, Hillberg’s team is opening up its in-house photo studio and will offer brands creative services, such as content development, as well as customer service.

Surfstitch currently sells over 300 brands, some with large global teams, others with less support, which could benefit from Surfstitch’s new services. As Hillberg explained, one of the challenges for new retailers is finding great partners that can best represent the brand.

“You need the right tech, people and processes and there is no rulebook around what that looks like, so often brands have to learn the hard way. It’s a lot more complicated than it sounds,” Hillberg said.

“Often those brands don’t have the resources in those areas because they’re small teams and they’re mostly focused on marketing and designing products, not necessarily backend operations. We’re handling all that backend complexities which is what a lot of brands stumble with when they’re going through their growing pains.”

Beyond the launch of the 3PL solution, Surfstitch has also recently released a new app to strengthen its relationship with customers and communicate with them on a more “intimate” basis, said Hillberg. It’s currently in beta mode and includes new features such as shoppable stories and “rich content experiences”. A loyalty program to further create a sense of community is also on the cards this year.

“For us, the launch of our app is all about improving the range of channels that we are available on to meet our customers and engage with them wherever they like to be active. Apps offer a different opportunity to communicate and build rapport, improving relevance for our customers by offering unique experiences that in turn help build loyalty and lifetime value,” said Hillberg.

Meanwhile, in an effort to attract customers beyond the summer season, Surfstitch has entered into new categories, such as homewares and activewear and wellness, where it can tap into the same coastal aesthetic.

“One of our biggest challenges is a good chunk of our customers purchase in summer and we don’t see them until the next summer, so our purchase frequency is lower than some of our peers. One of our main objectives going forward is to increase that and give people other reasons to return to us throughout the year. It’s a big priority for us,” Hillberg said.

Originally published in Inside Retail.


Dane Patterson, GM Brand and eCommerce, SurfStitch, was named this week by Ragtrader as one of the top 10 marketers in Australia.

Ragtrader says: In 2020, many brands shifted their messaging to focus on positivity, togetherness and what-to-do-at-home. SurfStitch was no different, launching a TVC that inspired consumers to ‘get back to living’ with a humorous take on summers that have been wasted in shopping centres.

Simultaneously, the e-tailer also launched a Mr Consistent cocktail collaboration dubbed ‘The Stitch Up’. Living offline and shopping online, as the brand’s TVC suggested, customers who spent $150 during summer were sent the cocktail as a gift with purchase.

“Our purpose at SurfStitch is to inspire you to live like it’s the weekend. It was even more poignant in 2020, as we were reminded again and again about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle, spending time with our loved ones and focussing on the good times,” Patterson said.


It’s been a pretty exciting year for Alquemie. In the last 12 months, the business has purchased Ginger & Smart, sold half of its stake in Ezibuy to Mosaic Brands (formerly Noni B), and launched six Lego Certified Stores in Australia.

The effort hasn’t gone to waste, according to executive director Richard Facioni, who told Inside Retail the business is in talks with other international brands to bring them to local shores.

“I just came back from New York, and I saw two Lego stores there. They’re great, but what we’re doing is just as good, if not better. I’m proud of what we’re doing, and I think other brands are now looking at that and saying, ‘these guys know what they’re doing’,” Facioni said.

“So, we are now in conversation with other international brands that are not in fashion, they’re not in toys necessarily, that are talking to us about partnering with them to bring them to Australia. That’s an interesting opportunity for us.”

To read the full interview with Inside Retail, click here.


This week, RAGTRADER named Richard Facioni as #2 in The Top 30 in Retail Power List.

RAGTRADER says: Richard Facioni has a number of brands in the investment portfolio, but it’s retail, particularly fashion retail that has captured the industry’s attention.

The investment firm has fast become one of the biggest apparel groups in the country, with Noni B, Speciality Fashion Group, Pretty Girl Fashion Group, Ezibuy and Pumpkin Patch all acquisitions.

This year, Facioni cast the net further afield with a majority buyout of designer womenswear label Ginger & Smart.

“This is a strategic move to continue to diversify our portfolio and invest in highly desirable retail brands,” he says. “We plan to grow the business both online and through physical stores.

(Founders) Alexandra and Genevieve bring notable management and design calibre and we look forward to working together.”


To celebrate the launch of the highly anticipated LEGO® Technic Automobili Lamborghini Sian FKP 37, AG LEGO Certified Stores will be opening early – for one day only – on Monday 1st June from 8am.

Held across all AG LEGO® Certified stores in Australia and New Zealand, the shopping event will allow consumers early access to the new LEGO Technic set, whilst assisting with in-store traffic and social distancing restrictions.

Myriam Szudrich, General Manager, AG LEGO Certified Stores, comments: “We are expecting the new LEGO Technic Automobili Lamborghini Sian FKP 37 to be our fastest selling product to date.

“With every detail recreated in precise detail, this is an outstanding LEGO model and collector’s dream – just like the real car.”

The new LEGO Technic Automobili Lamborghini Sian FKP 37 is a 1:8 scale set and the third model in the LEGO Technic Ultimate series, following on from its hugely popular predecessors, the Porsche 911 GT3 RS in 2016 and Bugatti Chiron in 2018.

The authentic features include 8-speed transmission, activated by the movable paddle gearshift, V12 engine with moving pistons and 4-wheel drive. Just like the full-size super sports car, the model car features classic scissor opening doors and front and rear suspension.

Myriam Szudrich continues: “Due to global time zones, Australian and New Zealand customers will be the first in the world to lay their hands on the new LEGO Technic Automobili Lamborghini Sian FKP 37.

“We are delighted to celebrate this landmark launch with our customers and look forward to welcoming brick fans bright and early on Monday morning.”

As part of the launch celebrations, AG LEGO Certified Stores and Lamborghini are offering an exclusive Lamborghini experience. One lucky brick fan in Sydney and Brisbane selected via a social media competition (@legocertifiedstores_anz) will win an exclusive ‘drive and drop’ experience – with a real-life Lamborghini vehicle from Lamborghini Sydney and Lamborghini Brisbane delivering the LEGO Technic Automobili Lamborghini Sian FKP 37to their door that same day. The two winning customers must live within 10km of the Broadway Sydney and Westfield Chermside stores.


Australian comedian Celeste Barber opened the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival Runway 3, presented by Harper’s BAZAAR, on Thursday 12th March.
GINGER & SMART were proud to open the show and to be honoured for our exceptional quality of style and design in a runway inspired by the editorial pages of Harper’s BAZAAR.
The GINGER & SMART runway edit shone with a sophistication, strength and beauty.


SWELL today unveiled its first collection made entirely from hemp. With numerous benefits that support sustainability, hemp is an environmental, renewable, reusable and recyclable resource – which also looks and feels great.

“The SWELL Hemp collection is just the beginning of many more good things to come.

“We set out to create our own beautiful collection, being very aware and thoughtful of what we are producing. Hemp emerged as the natural choice, as a truly sustainable crop which not only maximises utilisation but reduces waste.

“The aim is for SWELL Hemp to become an ongoing line, which plays a small part in help reducing our impact.”

Renae Harris, Senior Women’s Designer for SWELL

The SWELL Hemp collection ranges from $29.99 to $129.99.