Colliers International director of retail Leroy Wolland says most of the Dick Smith sites across New Zealand are in historically high-demand locations that appeal to retailers both here and abroad.
He says sites in Auckland, Wellington and the main metropolitan shopping centres are the most in demand.
“Typically the sites are very prominent within their environment, offer great branding and exposure, and are good generic floor areas which would suit a variety of retail uses including fashion, food and beverage, convenience, and homewares, or alternative larger format retail uses,” Wolland says.
Out of 55 former Dick Smith stores country wide, four have already been leased by Wolland and Colliers’ Jessica Martin, including the New Lynn, Onehunga and St Lukes sites.
A “significant” Australian brand that’s new to the market but cannot be named due to commercial reasons has also taken up a number of outlets.
Deals are being discussed for several others, Wolland says, including a couple of Australian and domestic retailers who’ve put their hand up and wanted to investigate the sites.
“The closure of the Dick Smith’s chains has simply accelerated their rollout.”
Wolland says the types of businesses interested generally are quite different to Dick Smith.
An example of this New Zealand manchester specialist Bed Bath & Beyond, which has secured some of the sites.
“We have chosen these sites for their excellent exposure, high level of foot traffic and premium location,” Bed Bath & Beyond spokesperson Trevor Brown said.
However, Wolland says there has also been a couple of electronic retailers who’ve capitalised on the opportunity.
The Dick Smith site that’s arguably in the most prime position, demand-wise, next to the downtown shopping centre at 21 Queen St isn’t available for lease.
Due to the demolition work and the development of Commercial Bay, Wolland says the owners have decided not to lease the store until work has finished.
“There’s going to be so much construction around that immediate vicinity, most retailers are going to find it pretty tough to operate in that kind of an environment.”
Former Dick Smith sites in the regions and towns with small catchments may struggle to attract tenant interest, Wolland says.
“When you get into some of those smaller catchments, that [ex-Dick Smith] store is going to be considered on the larger size for that catchment. There’ll be some difficulty in some of those smaller catchments purely because of the catchment size rather than the location of the store within that catchment.”
He says the small catchment size could be a barrier for entry for national retailers in towns like Alexandra, Masterton and Kerikeri, despite Dick Smith sites typically operating from the best spot in town.
For sites that have been snapped up, Wolland expects to see the first round of new retailers open in about six week’s time.
Meanwhile, 2 Cheap Cars chief executive Eugene Williams says Dick Smith’s demise has coincided with major growth and expansion of his company, so former staff may be in luck when it comes to finding a new job.
The company is adding two new stores to its network, so it’s put out a call for Dick Smith staff who’ve lost their jobs to get in touch.
“We are looking for people in a range of roles from branch managers, sales staff and administration support. We’ve always been impressed with the staff in Dick Smith’s New Zealand stores and we would love to consider them for jobs,” he says.