Watch out Jen! Rival executives at Myer were among the keenest observers of last week’s shock decision by David Jones to end its contract with star model Miranda Kerr.
Myer is locked in negotiations with its star mascot, former Miss Universe Jennifer Hawkins, with her four-year contract due to expire in November.
And trailing not far behind Hawkins on Myer’s catwalk is haute couture model Alexandra Agoston, whom the department store snatched from DJs and for a much lower fee than it pays Hawkins.
DJs ditched Kerr for one of its second-tier models in Jessica Gomes, who has now assumed the mantle as queen bee, fuelling speculation that Myer could be about to do the same with Agoston.
Hawkins’ manager, Sean Anderson, is tight-lipped on negotiations, declining to discuss it with PS this week, but he is quietly confident his star charge will be re-signed on her multimillion-dollar contract by the end of July.
However, PS hears from within Myer that things might not be going quite so smoothly.
One of the key factors in the DJs decision to end its association with Kerr – who had been the face of the department store for the past five years, earning about $1 million a year – was negative feedback from extensive market research.
”In the end it is all about the customer,” a senior source at David Jones told PS, somewhat prosaically. In recent months the retailer had commissioned extensive research into the model and her appeal among its core market: fashion conscious young women.
The results were not good for Kerr. Her increasing fame and high-profile jet-set lifestyle with Hollywood heart-throb husband Orlando Bloom meant many customers no longer ”related” to the model.
”She went from being the local girl done good to this supermodel who travelled the world aboard private jets and partied with superstars at glamorous locations. While all that was good for the gossip magazines, for our customers it meant her image was no longer ‘relatable’. We can not afford to alienate our customers with an image which they can not connect with,” the source said.
Interestingly, Hawkins and her relationship with Myer have been the subject of very similar research. However, a Myer spokesman denied rumours that some of the findings have not been favourable.
One of the key areas where the Myer-Hawkins relationship has been rumoured to have come under increased strain has been speculation over Hawkins’ appearance, which has been the subject of considerable media scrutiny, including from PS, over the years.
Hawkins has repeatedly denied having undergone any kind of procedure to alter her appearance, and she would appear just as popular as ever judging by the turnout to the opening of the new Townsville Myer store, when 12,000 fans showed up to see her