It’s time to explode: What’s next for a cashed-up Camilla
After years of organic growth driven by the strength of its products and prints, Australian fashion house Camilla is embarking on the next phase of growth with fresh investment from Perth-based firm Tattarang. The deal will see founder Camilla Franks retain majority ownership of the business, and continue to serve as creative director, while Tattarang will provide the capital and expertise to accelerate Camilla’s push into the United States – both online and physically, with 13 more stores t
s to come in the market.
According to Camilla CEO Jane McNally, the business has enjoyed several years of strong growth even through the pandemic, with 2022 being a record year.
“In the last five years we’ve seen our online business more than double – it was around 18 per cent, and now it’s almost at 50 per cent – and international sales grow to almost 40 per cent of our total mix,” McNally told Inside Retail.
“It’s been a stressful time, but a good time for us. We haven’t rushed into the States. The first leases we took were in really good centres, but they were short leases to see how it worked. Obviously it’s worked really well.”
The business has already identified a number of locations for the next batch of store openings in the US, and has plans to launch new stores locally in tandem.
“Now is really the time for us to expand and explode internationally, but also in Australia. Our store footprint is still quite small [domestically], so in a perfect world we’ll be upsizing some of our key locations and opening CBD flagships to really show what the brand can deliver,” McNally said.
McNally told Inside Retail that Camilla’s leadership team won’t change under the partnership, and that the investment into international markets will likely mean new overseas hires in the coming months.
The cost of growth
While entering a new market can be lucrative, it can also be quite expensive, explained McNally.
“It’s always a bit more expensive for a while, as you’ve got almost doubled costs for a little while as you set the new business up,” she explained.
“There’s been a lot of investment in designers as well, so we can have the peak trading periods of both hemispheres covered – we need colourways and summer outfits for here, while also needing layers for the Northern Hemisphere.
“Additionally, our website has been consistently improved, but we can make it better, and make sure our channels are as seamlessly connected as they can be.”
The business isn’t just expanding into new markets, but also new verticals.
Over the last few years, Camilla has launched a number of new product lines, including a homewares range that acts as a successful “adjunct” offer to its traditional print-based products, and a menswear category that grew over 500 per cent last year.
“That was without really having any dedicated space in our stores for [menswear],” McNally said.
“It was all online and wholesale: Harrods started stocking it, and it’s in Neiman Marcus over in the States. We had a successful collaboration with Robbie Williams, and he’s been really proud to wear it on- and off-stage.”
The business also saw a strong response to its collaboration with TV series The White Lotus, which saw Franks featured as an extra and several cast members wearing Camilla clothing throughout the show.
The brand collaborations aren’t slowing down any time soon. In February, Camilla will launch its first sunglasses range, and in March, it will release its collaboration with Disney across all of its major product categories. This follows Franks being named Australasian design ambassador for Disney in celebration of its 100-year anniversary.
“Someone said to me before I joined Camilla that it’s like a rocket ride, and there’s really no resting, it’s like non-stop acceleration,” McNally said.
“But I think when you’re working in such a creative environment, with people who have a constant passion and purpose, it’s actually a pleasure to go to work every day and push the brand that little bit further.”
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