Why are some Kiwi retailers struggling in New Zealand's regions and some thriving? We put seven regional centres under the microscope to find out. This time, we're looking at New Plymouth.
The offshore rigs remain for now, but ‘New Zealand’s oil town’ is carving out a dynamic tourist industry thanks to its sunny climate, shiny, multi-million-dollar Len Lye Centre, internationally renowned coastal walkway and cultural events like WOMAD. New Plymouth has also seen an influx of retirees and Aucklanders keen on cheaper housing.
The city’s ‘art and culture quarter’ boasts the buzzy and glamorous West End Precinct, for eating, drinking and shopping.
It’s home to boutique fashion and concept store Et Vous, which stocks a carefully curated range of New Zealand designers and international labels.
“Clients are becoming more experiential consumers [so] retailers have a responsibility to provide a unique shopping experience,” says co-owner Kate Macfarlane. “This is the only way to compete with online shopping in our physical retail presence and see growth in sales within our online store.”
By committing to several European brands for multiple seasons, Et Vous has been able to grow awareness of those labels with consistent marketing, resulting in good sales.
“Online sales have doubled from the same time a year ago. This gives us the confidence to continue in 2019 with the buying cycle we are in and add new designers to our repertoire.”
District mayor Neil Holdom wants to make New Plymouth a “lifestyle capital” underpinned by economic prosperity, with a focus on “a thriving central business district”.
The council is currently talking to retailers and others about how to achieve this, part of its ‘CBD 2050’ strategy.
“Feedback includes making the CBD greener, more pedestrian-focused and family-friendly.”
Check out other articles in this series:
Selling to the Kardashians from Matiere
This story originally appeared in NZ Retail issue 760 February/March 2019