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UK chain Debenhams set to open in Australia, exciting our aunts and uncles

Australia has had an influx of cool international retailers set up shop recently. Zara, H&M, Uniqlo and Forever 21 are the biggest and best of the lot, but now the party is about to be crashed by their strait-laced British relative, Debenhams.

The department store is set to open in Melbourne and is expected to sign up for a 4,000-square metre space in the newly redeveloped St Collins Lane building, according to the Australian Financial Review.

It follows a franchise agreement struck between the department store and retail investment company Pepkor South East Asia last year, with plans to open 10 stores locally over the long-term, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Don't be expecting a fast-fashion experience like Zara or H&M, however. Debenhams in the UK can be a bit like walking into your eccentric aunt's house. 

There you'll find shaped lamps covered in velvet, junior croquet sets and other gaudy knick-knacks that you'd never think of buying. Except as gifts for your relatives, if you really don't like them that much.

Sir Ian Cheshire, Debenham's chairman, told The Guardian the average shopper at the retailer is a 41-year-old woman who is interested in fashion, looking for newness and a broad choice of brands.

Of course, we don't know yet what an Australian iteration of Debenhams will sell. Its opening date is yet to be announced. 

The arrival of Debenham's new CEO in May, Sergio Bucher, could also change what the store gets up to. Bucher is a former executive at Amazon's fashion business in Europe and is part of a bid to help reinvigorate the retailer, which faced a series of poor results last year. 

The era of dog-shaped lamps could be over.

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