Lorna Jane Looks to China to Capitalise on E-Commerce Growth

By Sam McConnell | 27 Sep 2018

Multichannel activewear business, Lorna Jane is preparing to branch further into the lucrative Chinese market after experiencing strong online growth on local platforms like Alibaba’s Tmall.

After successfully breaking into the Chinese e-commerce market, the founders of Lorna Jane are reportedly eyeing physical store locations in the region to complement the brand’s online operations.

It’s believed the interest in China stems from a desire to increase the appeal of the brand to approximately a dozen private equity and trade buyers who have expressed interest in purchasing a controlling stake in the Australian business. According to the AFR, Asian trade buyers are among the interested parties.

The Digital Appeal of Lorna Jane

This year, Lorna Jane is expected to generate roughly $200 million in annual revenue, with 30 percent of that coming from online channels. This follows on from the brand’s success on Alibaba’s Tmall platform in China, where the company’s sports bras have become the number one item in their category on the platform.

In China, Lorna Clarkson says authentic Australian brands, like Lorna Jane, are highly desirable, as the market has seen strong growth with other Australian wellness brands, such as Swisse and Blackmores.

“Activewear has now become ready-to-wear. There’s now a blurred line between fashion and sports apparel,” she said.

While Australian consumers are also turning to fitness clothing for more than just working out, the company is looking to scale back its physical store footprint across the country. This is to offset any potential fallout from increasing rent pressure, allowing the business to instead focus on the growing e-commerce sector.

But, according to Lorna Jane’s Chief Executive, Bill Clarkson, a slightly different approach is being taken in China. In the Asian market, the brand has established a successful online presence already but is looking into more local opportunities.

Presently, Lorna Jane has a showroom in Beijing and a local team of staff, but Mr. Clarkson said that its physical store footprint would be expanded to correlate with rising consumer and investor interest in the region.

“The interest has been very strong and has exceeded our expectations,” he said.

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