Naomi Milgrom doesn’t mince words when it comes to the challenges facing retail, particularly in Australia.
With retail spending in the country sluggish late in 2014, Milgrom said part of the difficulty is that overseas retailers are taking what market share there is from consumers who are actually spending. Even the drop in oil prices hasn’t been enough to get Aussies back in the shopping malls in large numbers, and when they go shopping, it is often in non-Australian stores like Zara or TopShop.
The antidote to this is brand strength, said Milgrom, who owns Sussan Group, Australia’s largest retailer and Sportsgirl, “I think Australian retailers who survive well will be the ones who have closely invested in their brands and the ones who connect with consumers, ” Milgrom told the Herald Sun.
Many consumers still shop locally, as they feel that the big chains lack the advantage of understanding what their local customers want, “the personal connection in-store is not what it should be, ” said Milgrom.
“Heritage brands” that have withstood the test of time tend to have an edge, but their challenge is to stay current and to attract younger consumers. Milgrom says she has no regrets about not taking her retail company public, since staying private allows for innovation and not having to constantly jump through analysts’ hoops. “For a retail fashion store, to be a public company is almost impossible.”
Milgrom, who is known for her philanthropic activities in the arts and the Jewish community, is also an art collector and has had public exhibitions of collection.