Debenhams has opened its first store in Australia this week with a small-format shop in Melbourne.

The 3,600 sq m store is the first of its kind for Debenhams and is a notable shift away from the traditional department store format in Australia, it said.

The retailer has partnered with franchisee Pepkor, part of the Steinhoff group, for the store, which opened on Tuesday.

Debenhams managing director of international David Smith said: “International expansion in key markets is a strategic priority for the business.

√More than 20 million shoppers visit our 175 UK and Republic of Ireland stores each year and this includes a huge number of Australian consumers.

“Shoppers in Australia spend more than $5.1bn on fashion and $8bn on beauty products a year – add that to the fact that we know that our offering resonates and the next logical step for the business was to open a store in Australia.”

Debenhams Australia managing director Graham Dean added that Australia was already Debenhams largest market online outside of the UK.

Debenhams has 243 stores across 28 countries worldwide.