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Macpac eyes expansion in Australia

Friday 10th June 2011

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Outdoor clothing and equipment maker Macpac remains committed to its Christchurch base but is eyeing further expansion in Australia now that Jan Cameron, the founder of the Kathmandu retail chain, is on board.

It was reported yesterday that Ms Cameron is investing A$20 million (NZ$26 million) in Macpac now that a non-compete period from when she sold Kathmandu has expired.

Macpac creative director Campbell Junor told NZPA that Macpac was doing well and the capital injection, and addition of a motivated partner, would take it forward.

Macpac had been profitable for the last three years and the business had massive potential in Australia, he said.

"It is great to have Jan on board and she is eager to get back in the outdoor retail sector."

Currently 14 of Macpac's 29 stores are in Australia but they are not producing half the sales.

Macpac was founded in Christchurch in 1973 by Bruce McIntyre. In 2008, Mouton Noir, owner of the Fairydown outdoor equipment and clothing brand, purchased Macpac. Its shareholders are Junor, Pierre van Noorden and Bernie Wicht.

Under the new owners the business moved into retailing from wholesale distribution of its products.

Junor said that currently the company's stores in Melbourne and Sydney were too small and it was not represented in some smaller cities where previously its products had been available under the wholesale business model.

Macpac is based in Christchurch and has a distribution centre there. Junor said the company may consider a second distribution centre in Australia.

"Jan already has quite a well-established distribution network in Australia through her other business and we may look for some efficiencies there," he said.

But he added that Macpac was anchored in Christchurch. Its store in the central business district was affected by the February earthquake but two other stores were operating.

The question many people are asking is whether an outdoor retailer with a new association with Cameron will take on the Kathmandu business she built up from nothing and sold for several hundred millions of dollars.

"Will we take them on? I see us taking more and more sales from them as people become aware of us because our products stack up comparatively," said Junor.

"I think as long as there is a market out there that wants a genuine outdoor product of a high performance standard then there is a market for Macpac. We are product-driven company not a marketing-driven company," he said.

Cameron is a substantial shareholder in clothing company Postie Plus and also owns Australian discount retailer Retail Adventures.

It was reported last year that Cameron, who received a Queen's Birthday honour for philanthropy last year, was in talks with Macpac about a joint venture.

She is estimated to be worth A$295m in the BRW Rich 200 list.



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