Kiwi Property, which owns Sylvia Park, had no comment when asked by The Register if this was the case. But if it is, this would mean it could keep a close eye on its competitor, H&M, which last month confirmed its first New Zealand store is going into Sylvia Park in late 2016.
At the time of the H&M announcement, Kiwi Property CEO Chris Gudgeon wouldn’t confirm that Zara was moving in, but said to Stuff “you would be surprised if we weren’t talking to them”.
“We’re talking to them all… and we’ve been talking to them for years,” Gudgeon said.
However, others we talked to expressed doubts about where Zara would fit at Sylvia Park by 2016, as it’s understood H&M’s arrival has meant a reshuffle of its current stable of retailers.
Zara demands department-store sized footprints of a similar scale to H&M. According to Forbes, Zara stores are typically 1200 square metres in size.
Store sizes in New Zealand malls are usually well under that.
Topshop’s Queen St store, which is considered vast in terms of fashion retailing, is 1300 square metres. It may have lucked out finding a space that big in Auckland’s CBD.
First Retail managing director Chris Wilkinson previously told The Register that H&M may have chosen Sylvia Park because it delivers the scale necessary for the company’s preferred store formats.
That kind of scale isn’t available in trendier fashion districts such as Queen St and Newmarket, he said.
Kiwi Property is certainly willing to increase its footprint to get these big international retailers into its centre.
It’s investing $7.5 million into accommodating H&M and upgrading adjacent mall areas and bought the 16,200 square metre Apex Mega Centre across the road from Sylvia Park for $64 million in December.
It also said earlier this year it was looking at a $150 million, 20,000 square metre expansion of Sylvia Park, which is currently 80,000 square metres.
The expansion is in the pre-development stage, which covers design, pre-leasing and consenting, with the potential opening date three years from now in 2018.
“This [expansion] would accommodate new international retailers and additional specialty and department stores,” Gudgeon said in Kiwi Property’s annual report in April.
“The redeveloped centre would offer a world-class experience and cement the centre’s position as Auckland’s most attractive retail destination.”
An expansion of that size would create ample space to recruit other international big retailers, but wouldn’t be ready in time for next year.
Rumours of Zara’s arrival intensified after The Shop in Milford announced it would be the first to stock the Zara brand in New Zealand in July.
However, the store mysteriously closed after little under a week of being open and then reopened minus the Zara brand.
Its closure amped up the speculation.
Sources close to Zara say Zara prompted the closure because it is planning on opening a New Zealand store in the near future and didn’t want a Kiwi store to steal its thunder.
Shoppers and retailers alike shouldn’t fret if they’re not close to Sylvia Park.
If Zara does open alongside H&M, it will send a clear message from Kiwi Property to other shopping centres around the country: up your game.
Who is Zara?
- Zara is a Spanish clothes and accessories retailer.
- It has more than 2000 stores in 88 countries, including 12 in Australia, but none in New Zealand – yet.
- Its sales for the 2014 financial year hit $19.7 billion.
- Zara’s warehouse is five million square feet, which is nine times the size of Amazon’s warehouse.
Why Sylvia Park shopping centre?
- Kiwi Property said earlier this year that it wants to make Sylvia Park Auckland’s most attractive retail destination and is investing heavily in expansion.
- Zara likes to choose areas with high foot traffic. According to Kiwi Property, Sylvia Park has more than 12 million shoppers each year.
- Shopping centres and international retailers need each other. The centres are under pressure to offer something new and exciting to shoppers with the rise of online shopping, and the international retailers have reached saturation in other markets like Australia.
- Sylvia Park is based in Mount Wellington and is close to the motorway, so it spans many of Auckland’s affluent areas.
- Competitors like Zara, Topshop, H&M and Forever 21 often set up shop in a close vicinity to one another as together, they can create a huge draw. With H&M already announced to go into the centre, Sylvia Park may be a logical choice for Zara.