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Property Council Retail Conference: Where are we heading?

  • Property
  • July 25, 2016
  • Will Bowman
Property Council Retail Conference: Where are we heading?

A talk by Martin Skinner and Adrian Nancekivell of Tailor Inc. covered food and beverage design trends, offering an insight into the increasingly popular marriage of hospitality and retail. The company has created physical sites for Barkers, Columbus Coffee, Icebreaker and shopping centres such as NorthWest and Sylvia Park.

The pair began with a statement sure to sooth some nerves, saying that the online threat to retailers is now more clearly understood and that experience in the bricks and mortar scene is very definitely here to stay.

They highlighted a handful of trends that they see as working together to bring the industry into its next era. What was evident throughout, however, is their belief that “Food and beverage is the social glue of retail.”

The rise of the precinct style shopping centre, fast-casual dining, and repurposing of character-filled and unique spaces were the ‘on-trend’ areas where the company sees the most activity.

The proliferation of retail precincts such as Britomart and City Works Depot that offer a symbiotic retail, hospitality, and business environment are becoming a lifestyle for people as the offering supports that modern, healthy, urban lifestyle.

Within these areas – like Britomart, City Works Depot, North Wharf, Ponsonby Central, and the Re:Start Mall in Christchurch – the growing fast-casual dining scene is having a powerful impact.

The offering is defined by attributes like open kitchens, healthy and affordable fresh food that is prepared on site, and importantly, a focus on customer service. Think hipster-eateries-for-the-masses.

These trends aren’t new, but they’re gaining more traction on our shores than they have before. Skinner and Nancekivell touched on the “what’s next” for the industry as well. Once again, it’s nothing new, but it’s yet to become a “mainstream trend” in the New Zealand market.

The ideas of “bespoke retail” and “urban to suburban” were on the retail horizon for the pair, both fresh from trips overseas to unquestionably more modern retail environments than our own.

They pointed to examples from McDonalds and Starbucks stores that were designed in a unique and localised way. The stores are absent of overt branding and feature architecture, menus, and service tailored to the demographic amongst which they’re located.

The idea of bespoke retail was echoed by Cotton On country manager, Mark Singleton, who pointed toward the company’s ‘Among Equals’ campaign that is set to launch later this year. The line is entirely New Zealand born and will attempt to capture the particular streetwise urban market unique in New Zealand.

The urban to suburban trend mentioned by Skinner and Nancekivell is already paying dividends from retailers around the country, but a combination of factors seem to be pushing the trend into a higher gear.

Urban ideas can be very effectively translated to a suburban environment, says Skinner: “People who would traditionally like to live close to town can only afford to live a little further out, but they still possess the same customer profile.”

James Hurman, founder of Previously Unavailable delved into the well subscribed view that it’s experience based offerings that are the future of retail, stating: “Retail is about helping people buy things.”

Hurman used an example from Sweden of a grocery store that employs nobody but is open 24/7 to customers. The store is accessed via a smartphone app and purchases are made via your card from a simple barcode scan.

The shopping experience is going a step further than the current retail model, all in the name of convenience. And as Skinner and Nancekivell pointed out, people now expect a high level of customer experience and convenience at a reasonable price point. 

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