THE heads of two of the country's biggest retailers say they are ready to take on the threat posed by Amazon, as the US giant confirmed its plans to set up its first warehouse in Melbourne.

Myer chief executive Richard Umbers and Super Retail Group chief executive Peter Birtles told the East Coast Forum in Brisbane yesterday they were better prepared than some of their smaller rivals.

"It's not like we've suddenly realised that Amazon is coming," Mr Umbers said.

"We've been working on the basis that these digital players are part of the picture."

Super Retail owns brands including Rebel, BCF, Amart Sports and Supercheap Auto.

Mr Umbers admitted retail conditions were "challenging" but said Myer was able to leverage off its network of bricks and mortar stores.

"I would be more concerned if I was selling a generic product online, competing on price," he said.

Mr Umbers added it was "possible" for Myer to partner with Amazon and sell private label brands through the online giant - something that other brands did overseas.

"The short term impact has been vastly overstated and the long term impact understated," Mr Umbers said.

Myer, which is part way through a five-year transformation, last month announced it was taking a $45.6 million hit to its full year results.

That followed disappointing sales and a write-off of its 20 per cent stake in the failed Topshop's Australian franchise.

Mr Birtles, whose Super Retail Group owns the Rebel Sports, Supercheap Auto and BCF brands, warned other retailers would find it tough to attract customers if they did not invest in "technology, strong data and good supply chains".

Mr Birtles said Super Retail knows it can't compete on price but it can connect with customers to not only sell them a fishing rod but also "tell them how to catch a fish".

He said digital content, online and in-store experiences were part of the "omni-channel" model that would set them apart.

Amazon also announced yesterday an executive from its German operations, Rocco Braeuniger, will take up the role of country manager for Amazon.com.au in the coming months.

Australia operations director Robert Bruce said the 24,000 square metre "fulfilment centre" in Dandenong South in Melbourne's south east would create hundreds of jobs.

News Corp Australia

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