Interview with Lynton Rice from Target Australia

Target is part way through a re-build of their business model and offering to the consumer. Initially all the research clearly highlighted that even with the difficult times Target have had to encounter, the Target name is both iconic and still has much value. From all reports they are heading in the right direction and the recent appointment of Lynton Rice is a clear indication that they intend to get very serious about projecting a winning formula to the market. Lynton comes to Target with a heavy-duty background in fashion and design with former key roles with Woolworths in South Africa and Next. He also holds an honours degree in fashion and design. Target will soon move to new corporate offices at Williams Landing, north of Melbourne, later this year which will no doubt be the trigger for a new beginning and should have the potential to attract new talent to the team. From my conversations with Lynton, it is abundantly clear that he has the backing of the business to establish a singular vision moving forward with all departments heading in one direction.

Lynton Rice

Lynton, it seems that for the first time in a long time, the business has empowered you to set a singular direction for the development of a brand statement to the market?

Target is our customers favourite brand but over the past few years we have disappointed them with the lack of product statements, poor fashion, poor quality and a lack of true direction. We, as a company have acknowledged all of the above and have started making significant changes to the way we think, act and feel about clothing and general merchandise. We will deliver on trend colour, fabric and silhouettes and do this with absolute authority. This will match all our international competition and we will do this at great value to our valued customer. Our customers will be able to shop the latest trends which flow through from the catwalks each and every season as well as their core key basics. They will be able to purchase the key items of the season for the whole family at the best value in the market. We will surprise our customer each and every time they come into our store or shop online.

With your fashion background, can you tell us a little about your “fabric first” strategy for Target?

We can’t design if we don’t think “ fabric first” and this is a must in this day and age of fashion retailers. Fabric is often the key reason along with colour, for our customers to purchase a new item every season. The likes of Premier Vision, Texworld, Intertex as well as many other international fabric trade shows around the world are the starting point of providing our customer with newness, functional and innovative product each and every season. We are always aiming to improve our fabrics, hand feel, functionality and our sustainability message to our customer so using BCI cotton is a must in this day and age as our customers need to feel as though they are not just buying another item of clothing. Clothing needs to be functional on a day-to-day basis so whether this comes through adding stretch in our chinos or water repellent properties to our jackets. All of these functionalities become the norm for any retailer.

Target Fashion

You mentioned your 5-pillar vision for the business in terms of brands; can you expand on this and give us a sense of how this will look?

The key to the 5 pillars is trend, recognition and suprise. The branded world is changing on a day to day basis and our customers have information, images etc at their fingertips on a minute by minute timeline. There are brands that have always been around that we should constantly surprise our customer with on how we present them. There are nostalgic brands that tug on a customers heart strings and bring back memories. There are international brands that are ‘ of the moment ‘ which we should pro-actively look at to gauge the relativity and scope to our customers. There is the unknown and a gut feel of brands that just have a cool factor that as a team we know will work. Target will make all of the above pillars a ‘must’ purchase for our customers by making it not only fashionable but with keeping great value at it’s core.

From a design stand point, what is your vision as to how brand images should be treated and brought to market?

Brand images to me are a way of showing your personality, status, alligency, nostalgie, team, where you grew up, what your favourite logo is etc. Brands have been using their names and logos to sell their products for years and many have become recognisable without using the name of the brand in many instances. A brand’s logo is an immediate advertisement to other people without saying a word. Brand images are powerful and resonate with everyone in so many different ways. Designers such as Virgil Abloh and Kim Jones have changed the way that brand images are seen from catwalk shows to streetwear and have merged these two areas of fashion and opened their brand images up to a global audience that may not have previously acknowledged them.

I understand that you want to establish a mandate for brands where Target is viewed as the number one player in the market. Can you expand upon this sentiment?

We currently offer a number of brands to our customers across all genres as well as hard goods but we know that there is huge opportunity in increasing the offer to our customers and offering them diversity and suprising them. Brand in general is a huge part of Target’s growth over the next few years. Target has and will be the place to come and purchase your branded merchandise across soft and hard goods. We will surprise our customers with branded product that they have a nostalgic reference to as well as having seen brands through the internet, television and social media.

Target Star Wars

You mention that you want to take a global approach to brands and licensing, can you tell us a little bit more about your plan?

Targets customers live in a global market and social media and the internet has changed the landscape of how they visually see brands. We need to provide Target customers with the best brands from around the world that they know and love but done in an innovative way as well as surprise them with brands that they may or may not know but they will resonate on a different level and over time become a loved brand.

Who is the typical Target customer and what do you envisage this being in 12 months time?

Our customer is Mum. She buys for the whole family and we provide her with the many different brands for each and everyone of them. She expects the brands we currently sell and over the next 12-24 months we will surprise her with the best brands in the world which will put Target on the radar of her whole family. We also want to attract a new/previous customer that is currently shopping in our competition because they are currently not finding what they want within our brand.

Will you embrace brand activation throughout the business and make a statement?

Target will use a strategic approach and have a mixture of activations, launches, collaborations, constant global brands on offer so that our customer doesn’t want or need to go anywhere else for her branded soft and hard goods. Our customer will see a step change in our offer, our range and our global brand footprint.

You will shortly be moving to a brand new home north of Melbourne in Williams Landing. Will the team view this as a new beginning?

The whole Target team is looking forward to a new office/home at Williams Landing and being closer to the CBD of Melbourne. It’s a sign and message to the market, that Target is once again heading towards being a force to be reckoned with. A new office will create a new energy and vibe and you can already feel it a few months ahead of the move. Out with the old and preparing for the new Target that every Mum with love and trust.

Target Pokémon

Will Target be different from the rest of the market?

The way we are approaching is different and we have the scale to be different to the market. We have a leadership team that are fully committed and on board with our strategy to make us truly different to our competition. We want to have a mixture of exclusive brands and global brands but it’s how we will approach each and every one of them that will be our point of difference. We will provide our customers with the best branded product in the market and at the best value.

In terms of a planning cycle can you tell us your timeline for moving into a more brand-orientated phase?

Our customers will see a step change over the next 12 months and feel the true branded approach. Lots of work is being done behind the scenes to surprise our customer and provide them with the best branded product in Australia when they walk into a Target store or shop us online.

Thank you for your time Lynton, there are interesting times ahead for Target and we look forward to watching the business evolve over the coming months and years.