NorthWest mall, which is the size of four rugby fields and worth $155 million, is due to open in one week on October 1. Here’s an exclusive look into the newest addition to Auckland’s retail scene, which houses 100 shops.
Owned and developed by DNZ Property Fund, NorthWest’s construction is very much still underway and full speed ahead until next Thursday morning, when the mall officially opens.
But despite the roar of power tools, dust and debris in the air and orange high-vis vests dotted around the place, a wee gem of a mall is emerging.
NorthWest’s main point of difference upon entering is that it doesn’t look or feel like a typical mall.
Instead of the artificial lighting often used in malls, there is a lot of natural light in NorthWest coming from large windows which line the mall.
There is also a lot of natural materials used, rather than polished, sterile surfaces.
Natural timber lines the ceiling and surfaces feature black granite, while leaf motifs twine down ornamental poles.
NorthWest Shopping Centre manager Jennifer Andrews says the look harks back to the history of viticulture in the area.
“The architect in the concept phase of building looked to integrate natural elements,” she says.
“You’ll notice that the retail designs reflect the architectural designs. They’ve integrated natural materials, wood, raw concrete, those sorts of elements. It makes it look very appealing.”
The nature theme continues in the bathrooms, with tree paintings in the family room and lights that look like leaves on the walls.
The mall is divided up into three areas: services, food and fashion.
The fashion strip has the likes of Glassons, Barkers, Jeans West, Pandora and Hannahs lining it.
The food court is a separate area to the main shop strip and has 400 seats, with nine retailers operating within it.
Andrews says the retail food mix was important to get right, as community research and feedback showed there was a strong demand for dining opportunities in the area.
What the food court looks like currently vs. what it’s envisioned to look like
Food and beverage outlets at the mall include Habitual Fix, Katsubi, Mad Mex, Pita Pit, Jamaica Blue, Kiwi Grill and The Coffee Club.
At the other end of the mall is the services strip, which has banks, a pharmacy, hairdressers, opticians, Whitcoulls and a Countdown.
Farmers, which anchors the end of the fashion strip, is one of the most organised stores so far.
Store manager Marc Norman says the store will be pretty much ready to go as of today.
But there’s good reason for its early preparation, considering the scale of the store.
Sitting at 8000 square metres in size, it’s one of the biggest in the business.
It has seven cosmetic houses within it, which Norman says is the biggest cosmetic offering in West Auckland.
There are two alternative entrances to the shop – one off the street and one from the upper level car park, which enters through Farmers’ store-within-a-store, Stevens.
For the littlies, there’s princess and rocket ship changing rooms and an interactive Lego concept store.
Lego sets in Farmers piled high, waiting to be sorted for the concept store.
The store is different to others in the Farmers chain, as there is more than 80 mirrors in the fitting rooms and more than 150 mirrors on the shop floor.
Norman says this improves the customer journey and makes sure every shopper can find what they’re looking for.
The company has also invested in staff training to make sure the customer experience is seamless, he says.
“We’ve spent a lot of time training our team members in product knowledge and making sure we get team members in that understand customer service and live that philosophy.”
The mall’s launch will kick off with various radio DJs making appearances on the Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Chipmunks performances for kids and live music.
As for future developments, there’s also what’s dubbed ‘NorthWest two’ opposite the mall to look forward to.
It’s a second stage development already underway that will consist of retail, bars and restaurants on the ground floor and office space above it. It will open in October 2016.
The mall will also open out onto a shared public space with a town square and public facilities, such as a library.
Keep an eye out for issue 740 of NZ Retail Magazine for our in-depth feature on the NorthWest mall.