Cotton On opens in Namibia, looking elsewhere in Africa

Cotton On's store in Sandton, Johannesburg, is one of its top performing stores globally.

Cotton On’s store in Sandton, Johannesburg, is one of its top performing outlets globally.

“We definitely see ourselves continuing to grow and expand within the region and all over Africa,” says Felicity McGahan, Cotton On’s group global manager.

The Australian fashion retailer opened its first store in Namibia’s The Grove Mall in Windhoek today. Namibia is the second African country to house the brand, after South Africa.

According to McGahan the decision was based on the performance of some of Cotton On’s competitors in the market.

“And this will be a test and response situation and we will see what happens… If [customers in Namibia] vote for different products to that of South Africa, then we will make those changes.”

She adds the brand responds very quickly to market opportunities and has its eyes on a pan-African expansion. “We are a bit of a risk-taking business… and I think that’s where there is a lot of passion from the local team to continue to expand throughout Africa.”

South Africa a lucrative market

South Africa has seen the entrance of a number of global fashion brands in recent years, such as Forever 21, Zara, Gap, Mango and Topshop, with H&M soon to launch.

Cotton On entered South Africa in 2011 and has already grown to 100 stores.

According to McGahan, of the 17 global countries the brand has a footprint in, the South African market stands out in terms of growth potential.

Its Sandton City store ranks as one of its top performing stores globally, and in December the brand opened its largest store worldwide in Durban’s Gateway Shopping Centre.

McGahan says that there are some notable differences between South African consumer tastes and those elsewhere in the world. For example, she notes South African consumers have a stronger attraction to colour garments.

“I think it’s a really interesting… the South Africa market is definitely a very casual market and [consumers] also respond more to colour than some other countries, even Australia.”