World Largest Cotton On Store Opens In South Africa


Cotton On is a rapidly growing brand, and there isn’t a major city in SA which doesn’t boast at least one store; but with the establishment and formal opening of Aussie brand’s largest outlet, Mall of Africa, the company will be setting up a larger outlet.

The newly opened Mall of Africa is seen as the first of a major center that had both local and overseas brands opening up on the ground floor.

Unlike in years back when the usual big brands like Truworths, Foschini, Edgars, and Mr. Price are listed, the new mall will be hosting foreign brands, such as H&M, Forever 21, Forever New, River Island, Mango, and Versace. These will get to pick a starting location instead of spending years trying to unlock suitable space in existing malls dominated by local retailers

“There is no other Cotton On store in the world quite like our new Gateway store,” said the brand’s General Manager, Felicity McGahan, adding that this demonstrates Cotton On’s commitment to their local customers.

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According to Businessday live, a company spokesperson revealed that the 3,200m² Cotton On store will have the widest range of merchandise for the group in the world. It now has 163 stores in SA and Namibia. The group aims to double its business in SA over the next three years, taking its store footprint across its brands to 350 stores.

Since 2011 when Cotton On had its first store opened, its operations in the country reported double-digit growth every month and this was boosted by its expansion into super-regional malls in smaller towns.

“Most of your money is made in smaller, second-tier cities. Retailers don’t make most of their money in flagship stores,” said Jean-Pierre Verster of 36One Asset Management.

It’s no doubt that the cotton roll company is hitting the market and is making a lot from it but Mr. Verster said this big win is particularly at the expense of Edcon, “It does seem that our economy is bigger than official figures would show he added.

“There’s been a lot of excitement around the (international) brands over the past five years. However, the impact on South African retailers has been quite minimal,” said Kyle Rollinson, an equity analyst at Avior Capital Markets.

Mr. Rollinson also noted that Cotton On has grown quite quickly and having a great impact on the likes of Mr. Price, where there are more cash-based consumers. “If Cotton On looks to expand their credit offering, it would affect Foschini and Truworths,” he added.

Speaking on how these mega stores will be beneficial to local consumers, Rollings said though the market share of each overseas brand is not huge, it is cumulatively palpable and growing.

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“You’re constantly surprised by how much the South African consumer spends. All macro-indicators point to a slowdown, but we’ve not seen signs of that just yet. The market is growing, but the risk is that with everyone growing aggressively when a downturn comes there will be an oversupply.”

According to Euromonitor’s report, Edcon’s market share had since 2010 to 2015, remained static at 13%; Pepkor has grown from 8.6% to 9.2%, while Mr. Price Group has grown from 7.5% to 8.8%. Truworths is up from 6.7% to 7.9%. The Foschini Group has increased from 4.3% to 4.6%.

At over 2300 square metres, the mammoth Cotton On Gateway has plenty of space in which to achieve its goal. What’ll be on offer? Everything Cotton On: the shop offers collections from all of the brands within the retail group, including Cotton On, Cotton On Body, FREE by Cotton On, Cotton On Kids and Rubi Shoes.