Who's hot in New Zealand retail?

  • Opinion
  • March 3, 2015
  • Juanita Neville-Te Rito
Who's hot in New Zealand retail?

In New Zealand this summer, just about everyone.

But who’s hot in NZ retail? Which brands have come out all guns blazing in 2015?

Certainly not FCO and it was a shame to hear they are retreating from NZ after just three years. Their departure is a reflection of the stamina and unique retailing style needed to maintain success here. Just last month Mountain Design also closed their NZ stores. It may be lights out for another Aussie retailer who couldn’t cut it in our market but there are some bright stars left in the NZ firmament.

My hot list:

Rod Duke and the Briscoes Group

For years I thought the 10-60% off high low sale style of the Briscoes Group (Briscoes, Rebel Sport, Living & Giving) was unsustainable. But what Rod Duke has taught us all is if you stick to your knitting and do it well, then you can be successful. So successful that apparently he is sitting on an enormous pot of money itching to find the right retail ventures to invest in. And while Pumpkin Patch may not deliver more gold at the end of the rainbow, I will be keeping an eye on his 50% investment into Price Wise and BDM Grange – surely a play in the burgeoning health and beauty sector.

So what makes Rod and his team get it so right, when others who try to replicate the high/low/sale model get it so wrong? The beauty of the Briscoes model as a shopper is that their everyday pricing is not that far off RRP for branded products. Mix that with a fabulous mix of private label and a whole host of on trend product (not bleeding edge) and you have the right blend of all the stuff people want, need and desire. The category ranges are surprising and when you wander away from “on sale” to “never buy better” you happen upon  a whole host of stuff you hadn’t planned to buy with prices so damned good - of course you need an avocado slicer and more soda stream syrup – they end up in your basket. Hell last time I visited I got a new ironing board at 40% off. The stock is managed carefully and the range appears to cover most stuff that most people want.

Compare this to a retailer like Nood.

High low simply doesn’t drive the same outcomes. It’s all private label knock-off and as cute as some of the stuff looks, there isn’t that same overwhelming call to action to buy stuff you didn’t actually know you needed. To anyone aspiring to make millions from employing the high/low approach, make sure it works for your category. Remember Dog’s Breakfast?  

Sadly it became one.


Kmart NZ is one of my hot picks and if you haven’t been in there lately, best you make a visit soon. Actually with most stores open until midnight, you probably have plenty of time to shop.

Quite frankly Kmart has gone and got their shit together. A good on trend range, well priced and pleasantly presented by category. Sure the presentation is functional but Kmart isn’t pretending to be something it’s not. And whilst I am confused by the checkout configuration of self-serve vs. checkout operator,  this is bound to have improved labour performance which may have released more people back onto the shop floor to keep the standards consistent.

Kmart is in growth mode and looking for new locations throughout NZ. MD Guy Russo was recently quoted in Inside Retail as earmarking 30 stores for NZ by 2020, a big jump from the 18 in the fleet currently.  Kmart is my preferred discount department store in NZ simply because good stuff isn’t that hard to find compared to The Warehouse which has some great product but struggles with standards in store and manhandled, broken or hard to find. And good luck finding a staff member to help you.

I had the pleasure of visiting Kmart’s new concept store at Garden City, Mt Gravatt, Brisbane where they have done a stellar job in re-imagining the department store.

It is fabulous, with the exception of the checkout configuration which is just not my cup of tea. Kmart will debut the design in NZ at a new Hamilton store to open later this year.

Like minded savvy shoppers are discovering Kmart is a treasure trove to mix high end with budget conscious, design trend product; like the Scandinavian designed lamp below.

$45 wooden Kmart lamp

$6 from Kmart Image credits: Nes Design

So much was my enthusiasm for Kmart and - cue squeals of excitement - Target’s new concept store I’ll be dedicating a whole blog to them very soon.

Countdown Super Animals

When the day comes that your kids are hassling you to take them to the supermarket you know something ground breaking is occurring and the world may actually tip off balance. That day came for my family when Countdown’s latest collectibles hit the stores with a roar.

This is one of the best ever limited edition ranges from the supermarkets yet. Countdown teamed with the SPCA to send us parents crazy trying to collect a series of cards which make a real noise when you pass them through the swiper, which you pay for, of course, plus the album, plus the card tin and double that because I need a set of each for each child.  My kids constantly test my knowledge of animals from around the world from the smartest, to the fastest, the showiest and many more. You know Countdown are on to a great thing when the school bans kids from bringing the cards to school as it is disrupting their world!

Democratisation of professional retail services

There is a plethora of retail series which are accessible beyond those more wealthy shoppers - everything from the mani-pedi and massages to appearance medicine. Not only have these services become more cost effective but they are also accessible anywhere, anytime and anywhere.

I’ve got into a habit of going to my local mall for a foot massage as a Sunday night wind down from a tough weekend ferrying kids about. Previously something I could have only dreamed about or had to make time to go to a day spa to achieve.  

Need a Flu jab? Simply pop into your local pharmacy for one which will set you back a mere $40. No need to make an appointment or find time to visit the doctor.

Or how about a Botox fix at lunchtime?

Life Pharmacy St Lukes has become one of the first New Zealand chemists to offer a range of appearance procedures typically found at specialist clinics. Treatments including Botox injections, dermal fillers, platelet-rich plasma therapy and skin needling. Conducted by a trained nurse, the costs are competitive and a natural progression for pharmacy.

Retailers like these are adding a new dimension to the shopping experience through customer access, convenience and options not previously available.

Akia – hot products from a really cold land

Recently opening a retail outlet in Stonefields, Auckland, AKIA (actually how the name IKEA is pronounced in Sweden) brings Kiwis easy access to the international darling of low cost furniture and homeware. There are a few places importing and selling IKEA, but this is the cheapest I’ve found so far and with the best curation of the stylish product.  Their online store is full of IKEA goodness, from furniture to rugs to kids’ toys.   AKIA also offer a buying service if there is something you want that they don’t have in stock.

Check them out online here

Z Fuel

Forecourt service. Fly Buys. Discount Grocery vouchers. Pay at pump. No need to say more!

See more of Juanita's writing over at her blog.

Declaration Note: Green Cross Health, who operates Life Pharmacy, is a client of Hotfoot.

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