Why New Zealand Retail Property Group's listing on the NZX is significant

  • Opinion
  • July 18, 2017
  • Paul Keane
Why New Zealand Retail Property Group's listing on the NZX is significant

I read an article on the weekend that suggested most of us would be driving electric cars within a decade.

Volvo as a precurser has announced that from 2020 they will only produce cars with an electric motor. This is scary stuff particularly for those of us who have recently purchased petrol-driven new cars, as according to the story they will become obsolete in 10 years. Much the same, I guess, as the video or the more recent DVD.

If we extend our thinking, petrol stations will become "electric stations", and shopping centres will need to think about installing "electric fill up points" as a norm.  From my point of view I will stick with my petrol car and hope it lasts me until my grandchildren learn to drive!

However, the key point to my introduction this week is our ability to foresee what may happen in the future. Ten years ago most of us would not have contemplated the serious emerging of electric cars.

It took me back to the mid-1990s which coincided with an announcement this past week that New Zealand Retail Property Group are to list on the NZX.  

In the mid-1990s, I was approached to help a person who was looking at buying a 12 hectare site on Auckland's north western motorway. The site was located on a key arterial route and was absolutely ideal as a shopping centre site and ticked all the boxes for access, passing traffic and demographic growth. The irony was that there were no buyers interested. The development was however created and we opened "Westgate" in 1997, working closely with our client. The client was the founder of NZRPG Mark Gunton.

I recall at the time that some commentators criticised our demographic growth forecasting, as an overstatement, in that we suggested Westgate would have a primary catchment within 10 years of the mid 1990s of 100,000 people.  We now all know that in 2017 Westgate as an environment has literally grown like topsy and now has an immediate population of over 500,000.

Subsequent to Westgate, we created Fraser Cove in Tauranga.  Again, this was very much a greenfield site but tucked away from the major arterials in the backblocks of the city. Acquiring The Warehouse as an initial major Anchor secured the start of the project. We now all know today that Fraser Cove has been an outstanding success.

So where is this all leading to?  Back in the 1990s or the early 200os when both Westgate and Fraser Cove emerged, neither we or the centre owners would have considered that in 2017 these two properties would form the nucleus of an NZX listing, we couldn't accurately forecast what may happen in 20 years’ time.  It is akin to the "electric car" scenario.

I am pleased that Mark Gunton has taken the company to its current growth phase. It has been many years of hard work and highs and lows for him, but he has stuck to his plan and should be congratulated. Remember, he took the plunge on Westgate and succeeded where others simply didn't have the foresight.

There is a little irony however. In days past, RCG was always conscious of working for one client. We initially however, post the opening of Westgate, ventured into shopping centre development and actually acquired the site on which Fraser Cove was to be developed. Subsequently it was picked up by what is today NZRPG.

How times change!!  I note today that the new NZRPG board is to have the nucleus of the Augusta board on its board. Does this mean a marriage further down the track?  As I said earlier, none of us can predict the future, we just get on with making sure what is immediately in front of us is successful.  If so the future will take care of itself.  Life, however, is full of ironies!

 Paul Keane is a registered property professional and has vast experience in New Zealand’s commercial property industries. He provides retail and property consultancy including development management to many New Zealand property owners, developers and city councils. This post originally appeared on RCG's blog.

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