At an Our CBD meeting that gathered together key business stakeholders and commercial guardians in Wellington, attendees were told Zara and H&M representatives were scoping the local market heavily.
Those representatives were also looking for sites within Christchurch, furthering their reach from the stores announced at Sylvia Park shopping centre in Auckland.
First Retail managing director Chris Wilkinson says this makes sense, as both companies will be looking to rapidly develop their reach.
“To create a good economic model in New Zealand, they will need a number of sites,” he says.
Scaling up is something Zara and H&M are no strangers to.
Zara has more than 2000 stores in 88 countries, while H&M has more than 3900 stores in 61 countries.
However, the challenge for both businesses is finding suitable space within Wellington.
Wilkinson says these retailers favour high-profile, high-traffic sites, such as David Jones moving into the Kirkcaldie & Stains Lambton Quay space.
Topshop is also expected to open a store in a 1200 square metre site in the Capital on Quay shopping centre, which is across the road from David Jones.
Lambton Quay, dubbed ‘The Golden Mile’, has been in hot demand since David Jones announced its imminent arrival.
Colliers International reported that in October, Lambton Quay was 98.6 percent leased.
Leasing specialist Ty Dallas said at the time they already were receiving requests from retailers abroad to be within the “David Jones zone”.
Wilkinson says large-format spaces within Wellington’s CBD are scarce, or already occupied – but some of the occupied sites could present an opportunity.
“There are some sites that may currently house what we would call ‘legacy’ category stores, that are less relevant to today’s consumers,” Wilkinson says.
“Those would be ones that would be looking a short to medium term exit strategy.”
As for Christchurch, Wilkinson says for a long time retailers have been trying to get a handle on what its final look will be, but they’re more confident now.
“There’s greater clarity coming through as we see some of the buildings take shape and future consumer numbers around the CBD.”
The ongoing earthquakes are obviously a concern to these overseas retailers, he says, but they tend to take a “very, very long-term view”.
These new additions would join Topshop and Australia cosmetics chain Mecca Maxima in opening stores in Christchurch’s new retail developments.
Topshop is opening a 1200 square metre store on the corner of Cashel and Colombo St in Top Retail co-owner Philip Carter’s development, The Crossing.
Mecca Maxima is opening a 155 square metre store in Tim Glasson’s ANZ Centre in Christchurch, across the road from The Crossing.