South Africa is cementing itself as the Cotton On Group's most exciting new frontier, with store numbers growing rapidly to meet customer demand and a new regional headquarters and distribution centre established.
Since the first South African store opened its doors in 2011, the country has quickly become the Group's fastest growing market. The store footprint in the country now extends to over 100, including the opening of 27 stores in 27 days in the weeks leading up to Christmas 2013.
And the data speaks for itself - 7.5 million customers reached so far and six Cotton On Group brands now operating in the region.
Cotton On Group Chief Financial Officer, Michael Hardwick, says the Group is committed to making further investments in South Africa by expanding the store network to introduce more brands and reach more customers.
"Our new regional head office in Johannesburg means we have eyes and ears on the ground providing real time insights into what our South African consumers are responding to and allowing us to predict or react to this quickly," he says.
It is this speed to market that, Mr Hardwick says, has delivered the Cotton On Group's success not only in South Africa but in sixteen other countries around the world.
"Our capacity to monitor fashion trends and deliver them to our customers in the time frame they expect and at a price point they can afford, is our competitive edge - that's what they want and that's what we deliver," he says.
With the Group continually focusing on new and innovative ways to engage with its South African customers, a new e-commerce platform is also set to roll out in early 2015.
"We are invested in ensuring our e-commerce platform will deliver what our customers want, both in South Africa and all over the world," Mr Hardwick says.
Investing in the South African workforce is also forming a critical component of the Group's strategy. Having started with a team of 15, it's anticipated to reach more than 3,000 people in the next five years.
The Group’s $30M global learning and development platform Cotton On Group Uni (COG Uni) has also been rolled out in South Africa to further support and develop the regional team. This innovative program is designed to provide credible learning experiences for the Group's global workforce, inspiring both personal and professional growth.
Since launching in August 2014, 51 team members have begun the first Academy module and eight are currently undertaking the Accelerator program, designed to develop senior leaders. Mentors both in country and from across the globe are also on board to offer support in and out of the classroom for each Academy participant.
With the success of the South African operations, the Cotton On Group remains committed to strong regional growth, setting a target of 300 stores in the country within the next five years.