ALQUEMIE GROUP OPENS THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE’S LARGEST LEGO® CERTIFIED STORE

Alquemie Group and the LEGO® Group today opened the largest LEGO® Certified Store in the Southern Hemisphere at Melbourne Central (GPT).

The 559sqm custom-made store showcases an immersive new retail concept featuring hybrid digital and physical experiences designed to inspire creativity and encourage play.

Richard Facioni, Executive Chairman, Alquemie Group comments: “The new landmark LEGO experience is set to delight both local and international brick fans, with custom built features that are a tribute to imagination and creativity.

“We are pleased to set new benchmarks for innovation and design with the opening of the Southern Hemisphere’s largest LEGO® Certified Store at Melbourne Central.”

The new store format has been developed following two years of LEGO® customer research which identified consumers were seeking opportunities to play, customise retail experiences and to have fun.

Troy Taylor, the LEGO® Group, says, “The new store format is part of the LEGO® Group’s strategy to innovate across retail channels, with a similar concept to be introduced around the world.

“Our new store at Melbourne Central showcases LEGO® brand experiences whilst also allowing customers of all ages to share their ideas and creativity.”

ACTA CAPITAL ANNOUNCES ALQUEMIE GROUP’S ACQUISITION OF GENERAL PANTS CO.

ACTA Capital today announced that its retail investment platform Alquemie Group has acquired General Pants Co.

The acquisition strengthens Alquemie Group’s emerging position as one of the country’s leading retail businesses with General Pants Co. joining a growing portfolio which includes LEGO® Certified Stores, SurfStitch, Ginger & Smart and Pumpkin Patch.

Under the terms of the transaction the current owners of General Pants Co., which include the Victor Smorgon Group, Phil Staub and Jackie Vidor, have agreed to reinvest a significant portion of their proceeds into Alquemie Group.

Founder and CEO, ACTA Capital, and Executive Chairman, Alquemie Group, Richard Facioni comments: “This acquisition brings Alquemie significant scale and breadth of operations as we seek to partner with exceptional, like-minded management teams to build great businesses.

“General Pants Co. is highly complementary to our existing portfolio and positions Alquemie for continued growth as we build a leading multi-channel retail investment business.

“I’m excited that the current owners of General Pants Co. have agreed to become shareholders in Alquemie, a testament to their conviction in the strength of the Group as an investment.”

General Pants Co.’ current CEO, Sacha Laing, has been appointed as Group CEO, Alquemie Group. Sacha Laing is a highly experienced executive, having held various senior leadership retail roles including at Colette, Country Road Group and David Jones.

Sacha Laing says, “Alquemie Group has a strong, well-diversified portfolio of retail brands and strong forward growth ambitions. It’s a privilege to join the business at this pivotal time and I look forward to working closely with Richard.”

Founded in 1972, General Pants Co. is an iconic specialty retailer of youth casual apparel. It currently operates 60 physical stores across ANZ with a growing e-commerce arm, offering customers a flexible omni-channel experience. The business has a portfolio of well-established vertical brands and in-demand third-party brands, anchored by a market leading and sought-after denim offering.

Funding for the transaction, in addition to reinvestment by the vendors, comprised an acquisition debt facility provided by CBA and a dedicated investment fund raised by ACTA Capital.

ACTA Capital and Alquemie Group were advised by Hamilton Locke and Greenmount Advisory. General Pants Co. and its vendors were advised by Monash advisory and Danaher Moulton.

THE LARGEST LEGO STORE IN THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE IS COMING TO MELBOURNE

The biggest Lego Certified Store in the southern hemisphere is set to open at Melbourne Central in April, bringing a slew of new features and experiences to Australian customers.

At 559 square metres, the store will be roughly twice the size of other Lego Certified Stores in the country and will feature the brand’s new store design, which was unveiled in New York City last year and is being rolled out globally.

“It’s going to be a destination,” Richard Facioni, executive chairman of Alquemie Group, which holds the rights to Lego Certified Stores in Australia and New Zealand, told Inside Retail.

“Pre-pandemic, Melbourne Central was one of the highest foot-trafficked centres in the country, and as we come out of the pandemic, it will come back to being one of the highest foot-trafficked centres.”

In addition to popular features that exist in other Lego Certified Stores in Australia and New Zealand, such as the pick-a-brick wall and mini-figure station, the new store will debut a personalisation studio called the Mosaic Maker, where customers can take a photo of themselves in Lego form to commemorate their visit.

It will also offer 3D models of Lego sets and hands-on building experiences to inspire creativity and imagination, alongside a wide range of products.

“There’s a lot of engagement in there,” Facioni said.

 

Room for growth

The Melbourne Central store is just one of a handful of new Lego Certified Stores that are slated to open in the coming months.

“There will be a couple more openings before June, and then we’d like to see another four to six openings in the second half as well,” Facioni said.

Alquemie Group currently operates 13 Lego Certified Stores across Australia and New Zealand, but plans to grow that number to 25-30 over the next few years.

That could include up to four more stores in New Zealand, and several more stores in metro Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth, as well as key regional cities like Geelong.

“We notice plenty of gaps in the network,” Facioni said. “There’s plenty of opportunity to grow the network without stores cannibalising each other.”

At the same time, Lego’s online sales have increased rapidly since Alquemie Group launched a local e-commerce site two years ago.

“It was very rudimentary, but we knew we needed that online presence,” he said. “What we’ve been doing since then is building on that online store, and it now has a full delivery service, customisation and personalisation.”

About 25-30 per cent of sales are now made online, including click-and-collect, which remains popular with customers even though Covid-19 lockdowns have ended.

“It actually has been feeding traffic into the bricks-and-mortar stores because people go online, pre-order their stock, and go pick it up, so they can minimise their time in-store,” he said.

Between the brand’s online growth and new store openings, Facioni expects turnover to hit $100 million by June of this year, a significant milestone seeing as Alquemie Group only teamed up with the toy-maker three years ago.

He credits this to the strength of the partnership: “I’ve always said, the beauty of this partnership is they do all the brand marketing and product development, and our job is to create really amazing retail experiences, whether they’re in-store or online. And it works really really well.”

ALQUEMIE GROUP POSITIONS FOR GROWTH

Alquemie Group has welcomed Mareile Osthus and Rebecca Khoury to its team as its readies for further growth.

Osthus has joined the business as digital projects director and Khoury has taken up the creative director position.

The pair will help the investment firm grow its portfolio, which currently includes businesses LEGO Certified Stores, Ginger & Smart, SurfStitch and Pumpkin Patch.

Alquemie Group executive chairman Richard Facioni said the strategic hires comes at a critical time for the firm.

“We are pleased to announce strategic additions to the Alquemie Group team as we prepare for the next phase of growth.

“It’s an exciting chapter with the continued expansion of our core business and a number of significant partnerships on the near horizon.

“We welcome Mareile’s and Rebecca’s experience and talent to the team at this pivotal time,” he said.

Osthus brings her extensive experience as a career retailer to the role, having previously held various senior roles in Europe and Australia including at Zalando and Hugo Boss.

She joins the business from The Oroton Group having previously spent five years at The Iconic, where she served as part of the executive team as chief category management officer.

“I am delighted to work with the incredibly talented team at Alquemie Group as the retail portfolio enters a new era of strategic growth,” Osthus said of her appointment.

“I look forward to playing my part in contributing to the group’s ongoing success,” she said.

Meanwhile, Khoury brings her comprehensive knowledge to her position, having previously worked at ACP Magazines, holding roles at both Harper’s Bazaar and Grazia.

She was previously associate editor and co-publisher of 10 Magazine and 10 Men Australia and has been a member of the Advisory Council for the International Woolmark Prize.

“I’ve been passionate about fashion from a young age and have been fortunate to work with some of the industry’s most formidable talents,” Khoury commented.

“The vision for Alquemie Group is incredibly exciting and it’s my privilege to help shape its forward creative direction,” she said.

Alquemie Group is a retail and consumer investment platform managed by ACTA Capital.

SURFSTITCH AND GENERAL PANTS ANNOUNCE PARTNERSHIP

SurfStitch has announced a new partnership with General Pants Co.

The collaboration will offer SurfStitch customers access to the full portfolio of General Pants 11 private label brands across both men’s, women’s and accessories.

Richard Facioni, Executive Chairman, Alquemie Group said the partnership was part of a wider plan to strategically grow the SurfStitch consumer value proposition via marketplace.

“We are excited to welcome General Pants to our growing marketplace offering and giving SurfStitch customers greater access to these fantastic brands.

“Recently we’ve seen macro trends in retail accelerate, including retailers and brands collaborating and actively working together to grow their respective businesses.

“We look forward to working with new and existing brand partners in the months ahead and introducing them to SurfStitch’s active, engaged customer base through our marketplace.”

The eleven General Pants brands available from today include renowned denim brands Insight and Neon Hart, and in demand favourites Arvust and Alice In The Eve.

Sacha Laing, CEO, General Pants Co., said the partnership with SurfStitch will play a key role in the business’ accelerated growth strategy.

“It’s our core focus to continue evolving and catering to the needs and demands of our customers,” Laing said.

“We’re thrilled to announce our new e-commerce partnership with SurfStitch.”

ALQUEMIE GROUP AND THE LEGO GROUP ANNOUNCE FIRST WESTERN AUSTRALIA LEGO CERTIFIED STORE

Alquemie Group and The LEGO® Group today announced that Western Australia’s first LEGO® Certified Store will open in late 2021.

The landmark new store will be situated in prime position at AMP Karrinyup as a signature LEGO® brand immersive retail experience.

Richard Facioni, Executive Chairman, Alquemie Group said the new store would capitalise on the enduring appeal of the renowned LEGO® brand and bring a world-class retail concept to WA.

“We’ve listened to the strong community of brick fans in Western Australia and we look forward to bringing this leading global retail experience to Perth.

“The new store will be a destination in its own right for brick fans of all ages who we believe will respond positively to the creativity and imagination that are hallmarks of LEGO® Certified Stores,” adds Mr Facioni.

Western Australia’s first LEGO® Certified Store will be a custom-built retail space, including multi-sensory brick-built features that draw inspiration from local WA landmarks and familiar icons.

The new store in Karrinyup marks the announcement of Alquemie Group’s eleventh LEGO® Certified Store, as part of a partnership with The LEGO® Group.

Claus Kristensen, Vice President and General Manager Australia and New Zealand, The LEGO® Group comments: “The LEGO® brand mission is to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow through creative free play and developing the imagination.

“The brand, which has delighted generations of children and adults, has been available in Australia for over 60 years. We now look forward to showcasing the creative potential of the LEGO® brick with Perth’s first LEGO® Certified Store.”

Alquemie Group is a leading retail and consumer investment platform, managed by ACTA Capital. The portfolio of investments within Alquemie Group includes LEGO® Certified Stores, SurfStitch, Ginger & Smart and Pumpkin Patch, with a pipeline of additional investments planned.

SurfStitch Announced as Exclusive ANZ Retail Partner for Volcom x The Outer Banks Apparel Collection

SurfStitch and Volcom today announced that SurfStitch will be the exclusive ANZ online retailer for the new Netflix Outer Banks (OBX) inspired collection.

Dane Patterson, GM Brand and Ecommerce, SurfStitch comments: “Outer Banks has gained critical acclaim and a devoted international fanbase.

“With an experimental take on wardrobe classics, defined by a fiercely genderless and individual aesthetic, we are thrilled to announce our unique retailer partnership with Volcom.”

Released to coincide with the launch of Season 2 of the cult-favourite Netflix series, the collection features graphics and styles as seen in the award-winning series with a range of men’s, women’s and gender-neutral products.

“Working closely with Netflix and Outer Banks we were able to get a preview of the storyline, evolution of characters and their ride-or-die friendships that inspired us to create bespoke designs that capture exciting and emotional moments of the new season,” notes Ryan Immegart, Volcom CMO.

“This was the perfect opportunity to showcase Volcom’s signature style. We also felt it was important to bring some gender-neutral products that are authentic to the storyline and represent the Volcom and OBX fans,” added Lyndsey Roach, Volcom Global Head of Women’s.

Similar to the OBX show, the ‘Have a Good Time All the Time’ collection embraces the outcasts with a creative vision to accomplish remarkable things no matter what’s at stake. Standout pieces from the men’s collection include a ‘Pogue Life’ tee, boardshorts, trunks, wovens, tees, fleeces and a bucket hat in a print as seen on John B from Season 1.

The women’s collection includes your new favourite tie-dye sweatshirt with a quote ‘You love being seen with me, but you don’t love me’, ‘Kook Princess’ tee and a ‘P4L (Pogues 4 Life)’ sweatshirt as seen in Season 2.

The collection also includes a gender-neutral button-up ‘Your BF’s Shirt’ inspired by the piece worn by John B and Sarah in Season 2. Other items include a beach blanket, backpack, hats and John B handkerchiefs in classic Volcom fabrics.

OBX Season 2 launches on Friday 30 July.

ALQUEMIE GROUP AND LEGO ANZ ANNOUNCE NEW LEGO CERTIFIED STORE TO OPEN IN CANBERRA

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.

RETAIL INVESTMENT PLATFORM ALQUEMIE GROUP GROWS TEAM

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.

GINGER & SMART SHOWCASE RESORT ’22 COLLECTION AT AUSTRALIAN FASHION WEEK

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.