Hamilton has made a bold move and has publicly expressed its interest in being the first location for an Amazon New Zealand headquarters.
The retail giant is opening its Melbourne location end of this year, but has neither confirmed or denied a move to New Zealand shores.
Hamilton City Council member Angela O’Leary has been pushing the expression of interest heavily, even planning to set up a task force to put together a package to present overseas to Amazon.
The reasoning is Hamilton’s upcoming three-billion dollar Tainui Ruakura Inland Port, set to be completed in 2020 – also Hamilton has a large amount of industrial land up for grabs.
Ben Goodale, managing director of JustOne, acknowledges O’Leary’s plans and says it would be a fantastic opportunity for the area.
“A significant local employer with a large catchment area to draw staff from. Improving links to Auckland – although they need a high-speed rail link and a complete motorway to make them more connected.”
“Amazon’s model is consistent here,” says Goodale. “They don’t necessarily set up in the middle or even edge of the largest cities, but can opt for locations in nearby cities where there is the potential for labour supply and probably lower costs.”
The biggest threat that Amazon possesses mostly is centred around small and medium retailers, a lot which Hamilton’s economy is based upon.
However, Goodale highlights that big box corporations such as The Warehouse have done little to disrupt smaller family owned business in rural areas, and doubts Amazon will either.
“Some categories will be under pressure, but they are the ones we are all aware of. Also, and we need to be real here, Amazon is still only 5 percent of US retail. There are a lot of things people still want to go to the shops for, and don’t want to necessarily source from Amazon.”
Through speculation comes the need to question if retailers are jumping the gun assuming Amazon will settle on our small shores. Goodale thinks perhaps the worry is all for nothing.
“It’s probably pretty premature. There are a lot of much larger markets which would be more lucrative. People have been thinking IKEA was going to come to New Zealand for years but they’ve never seen the market value stacking up. Just because they are going to Australia does not mean they will be racing here.”