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Seafolly bringing Aussie beach style to China

Australian swimwear brand Seafolly is expanding into China, with its launch on e-commerce platform Tmall Global next month.

The move is a noteworthy departure from the Australian retailers and brands that have been expanding into China in recent years, namely those selling milk, supplements and cosmetics.

But according to Global Industry Analysts, the swimwear and beach casual wear market is on the rise in China, with an average of 9.6 per cent annual market growth from 2013 to 2017, and it is expected to remain strong over the next five years.

Seafolly global CEO Paul Kotrba sees this growth as an opportunity to sell the brand’s unique beach lifestyle to Chinese consumers.

“The swimwear industry today is very dynamic and growing at a rapid clip globally, especially so in China where it is forecast to grow close to 10 per cent each year through 2022, thus opening up an opportunity for Seafolly to be the first premium fashion swimwear brand in the market,” he said.

Kotrba noted that Seafolly is already known to many of the 1.4 million Chinese tourists who have visited Australia in the past 12 months and said there are millions more fashion consumers in China who “love Australian products and brands”.

Seafolly recently added Alipay as a payment option in certain retail locations in Australia, a sign of the increased demand for Seafolly products amongst Chinese tourists.

The business has been working towards the Tmall Global launch over the past three months, with teams in Sydney and Shanghai. The private-equity-backed company will be running a series of marketing campaigns to support the brand’s development overseas.

The brand will join over around 2,000 Australian brands on Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms when it launches on Tmall Global in July.

“As Australia’s iconic swimwear brand, we are delighted to welcome Seafolly onto Tmall Global and we are excited by the growth and opportunities in the swimwear category,” said Maggie Zhou, managing director of Alibaba Group in Australia and New Zealand.

Chairman and managing partner of the majority shareholder private equity group, L Catterton Asia, Ravi Thakran, said the move represents a significant step in the journey to create the world’s most iconic swimwear and beach lifestyle brand.

“[We] look forward to continuing to work alongside the team to expand the brand in existing and new markets around the world,” Thakran said.

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