Myer, David Jones back different strategies to win

“Our customers are savvy, now more than ever they want value in their outfits – pieces that will work for the [races], but also carry over to other events,” she says.

Regardless of consumers’ tastes, the retailers hope shoppers will tap their cards on millinery, suiting (including ties! They’re not dead!) and dresses to help restore spending to pre-pandemic levels. In 2016, fashion purchases of $40 million were directly attributed to the Melbourne Cup Carnival, according to the Victoria Racing Club. In a promising sign, fashion and department store spending rose 3.3 and 3.8 per cent, respectively, in July, according to monthly federal data.

Whereas some may view Myer as the less fashionable of the two stores, Brian Walker, chief executive of retail consultancy Retail Doctor Group, says Myer’s strength is that its customers are largely rusted on; more than two-thirds of its business comes through its loyalty program. He says Myer customers may have also better adapted to online shopping during the pandemic than David Jones’ base, which skews slightly older and traditionally from a higher socioeconomic segment.

The VRC has opened up its Fashions on the Field sections to all genders.

Fashion will be a key consideration in any future merger of the two companies, following reports this week David Jones is on the market. Walker says one potential outcome is a single company with dramatically fewer physical stores and a broader online range, with different brands under the respective Myer and David Jones banners.

Both men and women will be able to enter the Best Dressed and Best Suited fields.
Both men and women will be able to enter the Best Dressed and Best Suited fields.

On Thursday, Myer unveiled its spring range at a black-tie dinner at Flemington to celebrate 60 years of its Fashions on the Field competition. On the runway, models wore brands including sass & bide, Mossman and Cue to showcase this year’s racewear trends.

Earlier this week, reports emerged that South Africa’s Woolworths Holdings was considering selling off David Jones, leading to speculation that a private equity bid could also snap up Myer, triggering a possible merger. In July, Myer reported a preliminary $55-million profit for 2021-22 ahead of the release of its official results later this month.

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