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.

SURFSTITCH PREPARES FOR A YEAR OF INNOVATION
 

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.

RAGTRADER NAMES DANE PATTERSON TOP 10 MARKETER IN AUSTRALIA

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.

ALQUEMIE GROUP IN TALKS TO BRING MORE INTERNATIONAL BRANDS TO AUSTRALIA

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.