UK fashion retail mega brand, Topshop, launched its first Australian store in Melbourne today. The doors opened to a long queue at 10am with $100 gift cards for the first 20 customers.
â€¢ Product will be flown in to Australia from the UK twice a week.
â€¢ The chain, which boasts 1.7 million Facebook likes, plans to open in Sydney and Perth in 2012.
â€¢ Topshop's current trends are 'New Mod', 'Prim and Polished', 'Glam Underground' and 'Bavaria'.
The giant is breathing life into the vacated Borders store in Chapel St, offering a wide range of budget-friendly fashion ranging the gamut of formal, casual, swimwear and footwear. Guys too are catered for with a very healthy section to themselves!
Sir Philip Green, Topshop's owner said "I am delighted to be launching the Topshop and Topman brands in Australia. This represents another step in our continued international growth, and I am confident that the Australian customers will enjoy the retail experience and fantastic product offer that both our brands will deliver for them."
Three months after Gasp staff told shopper Keara O'Neill to "F*** Off to Supre", the chain's owner has appeared on television with an apology.
Our take is "too little, too late". What do you think?
Our original story appears below.
As published on Fashion Channel
Tuesday October 4, 2011
Melbourne fashion retailer 'Gasp' is has become embroiled in a PR nightmare that's gone viral but remains unrepetant after telling customer Keara O'Neill to f*** off to SuprÃ© â€” but apparently, the chain is grateful for the publicity.
O'Neill, shopping with friends for a wedding dress, was not happy with the pushy service or the insults she received in the Chapel Street store prompting her to write a letter of complaint. That letter and Gasp's stunning reply are published below.
Is it a publicity stunt? GASP is not new to controversy â€” in 2009, a GASP denim billboard campaign depicting semi-clad women was the most complained about in 2009. The case was dismissed by the Advertising Standards Bureau and one can't help but wonder whether GASP complained about their own billboard! But back to today's controvery â€” here's the e-mail chain:
From: Keara Oâ€™Neil
Sent: Monday, 26 September 2011 3:14 PMâ€¨
Subject: customer complaint-Chapel St store
I had the privilege of shopping at your brand new Chapel St store on Saturday 24th September with my three bridesmaids in tow. On the hunt for bridesmaids dresses and a hens dress for myself we walked into the store and were automatically pounced on by a male staff member, I understand that this is protocol for many retail outlets and ours is no different.
The staff member was initially funny and extremely helpful with sizes etc. I chose a bright pink dress to try on but was unable to do the zip up so asked for the size up, when I eventually got the correct size and came out of the change room I was unable to discuss the likes or dislikes of the dress with my bridesmaids as the sales assistant kept saying â€œyou should just get itâ€, when I told him I would think about it, he pulled me aside and whispered â€œIs it the price your worried aboutâ€.
By now I was extremely frustrated, and again told him Iâ€™d think about it, I walked back into the change room and closed the door behind me, only to have it pushed open with the sales assistant half standing in my change room, again whispering â€œI think you should just get itâ€, when I gave him attitude and said rudely, â€œI already told you I would think about itâ€, he then replied, â€œWith your figure I really think you should buy itâ€. Iâ€™m not sure exactly what he meant by that, but considering the attitude used to deliver such a statement I can only imagine that it was an immature dig in relation to my healthy size 12 frame.
I got changed in a hurry and walked right out of the change rooms and out of the store, I could hear the sales assistant yelling out to me, but I just ignored him and continued to leave, assuming my bridesmaids would follow. After waiting down the road for my bridesmaids to come out of the store I was told by one of them that the sales assistant yelled out â€œHave fun finding something at Supreâ€, when one of them approached him in regards to his comments, he replied â€œI knew you girls were a joke the minute you walked inâ€. When my bridesmaids walked out of the store another two customers walked out with them, they too could not believe the immaturity of the sales assistant.
I have worked in retail for 12 years and have come across an array of customer complaints over the years, none of which come even close to what I encountered on Saturday at your store, I wish I was exaggerating but unfortunately for your company this person actually exists and is working in one of your stores. I am pretty laid back and was quite happy just leaving your store, it was my bridesmaids who felt the need to say something to himâ€¦â€¦â€¦I dread to think how many customers he has not only offended but how many customers have left your store due to the pressure placed on getting the sale, and then to be harassed when that sale hasnâ€™t taken place.
Ring me, donâ€™t ring, not fussedâ€¦â€¦â€¦Iâ€™m just one retailer notifying another of an extremely inappropriate sales assistant.
And the reply â€” which has earned the store a spot on Channel 7's 'Sunrise' and made press headlines around the world?
Dear Keara Oâ€™Neil,
Having now had the privilege of having both version of events, I am now in a position to respond to your complaint.
From the very outset, one thing that you should be mindful of is; Our product offerings are very, very carefully selected, so to ensure that we do not appeal to a broad customer base. This is something which is always at the forefront of our minds when undertaking buying duties. The reason for this is to ensure that we only carry products which appeal to a very fashion forward consumer. This by default means that the customer whom is acclimatised to buying from â€œclothing for the massesâ€ type retailers, is almost frightened by our range, sometimes we have found that this type of customer, almost finds our dresses funny, and on occasion noted comments such as â€™it looks like a dead flamingoâ€™. When we receive comments like this, we like to give ourselves and our buyers, a big pat on the back, because we know we are doing our job right, and modus operandi is being upheld.
Our range is worn by A list celebrities to the likes of Kim Kardashian, Selena Gomez and Katy Perry to name only a few. Now, as one might appreciate, the style counsel for these types of celebrities are not ones to pick â€œrun of the millâ€ type clothing, and they do so on the basis to ensure that the styles are cutting edge, and only worn by a select few. Similarly these items are priced such that they remain inaccessible to the undesirable.
Insofar as our employee goes; Similar to our product offerings, our employees are selected with a similar approach. Chris whom served you is a qualified stylist whom has a sixth sense for fashion, and Chrisâ€™s only problem is that he is too good at what he does, and as I am sure you are aware, people whom are talented, generally do not tolerate having their time wasted, which is the reason you were provoked to leave the store.
Whilst I concede that you work for chain retailer, unfortunately that does not make us like for like. It is probably fair to assume, a lot of what I have said in this email, either doesnâ€™t make sense to you, or you totally disagree with it all, which is what I would expect (unless of course I have you totally wrong â€“which I doubt). Let me guess, you would never, ever hire Chris in the course of your duty, would you? This is the very reason, why your comment â€œfrom one retailer to anotherâ€ is so disproportionate, itâ€™s almost as though we are in a totally different industries. Chris is a retail superstar, who possess unparalleled ability, and I am sorry you feel upset by him, but he knew you were not going to buy anything before you even left your house.
So if you would like to do us any favours, please do not waste our retail staffâ€™s time, because as you have already seen, they will not tolerate it. I am sure there are plenty of shops that appease your taste, so I respectfully ask that you side step our store during future window shopping expeditions.
Thank you for your enquiry.
GASP Online Customer Care