High profile retailers snap up spaces in the Christchurch CBD

Buzz among national retailers spurred by The Crossing's opening

Two national retailers are shortly to open their doors for the first time in the Christchurch inner city and another existing store is moving closer to the action.

Two national retailers are shortly to open their doors for the first time in the Christchurch inner city and another existing store is moving closer to the action.

They’re part of an emerging youth-based retail precinct and Nick Doig, director of retail leasing at Colliers International in Christchurch, says the opening of The Crossing has sent a strong signal to retailers.

“There’s a real buzz among retailers now. Those already open are starting to feel the benefit of increased foot traffic with the continuing return of office workers and other retailers establishing nearby.

"The other great thing is that increased car parking is making life so much easier for shoppers.”

Doig says he is actively negotiating with two well-known fashion operators on another two sites in the immediate vicinity, which will further strengthen the area. 

The Lichfield Street Car Park, with 805 car parking spaces and capacity for 96 bikes, will open to the public on November 10.

It will join the other two large car-park buildings completed in the city's retail precinct, with the 400-park Crossing and 580-park Hereford St buildings within a short walk of the site. Another large car park will next year be built on Hereford St as part of The Terrace development.

One of New Zealand’s biggest snowboard and skateboard retailers, Boardertown, is opening shortly with a 250sq m store on the former Dick Smith site at 79 Lichfield Street.

In addition to selling thousands of skateboards, the flourishing retailer also has a strong footwear and streetwear offering.

Boardertown already has stores in Auckland and Queenstown, and co-owner Tim Guy says Boardertown had been looking at Christchurch for some time.

“We’d always been interested in opening in the city, because of its proximity to skifields coupled with the large skateboard scene. We really like how the city is developing and its architecture.”

Guy says the CBD site they’ve leased fits the bill perfectly because it’s close to the Washington Skate Park and is in the midst of the Retail Precinct.

Boardertown was founded in 2004 by friends Dan McClean and Matt Traynor, then 18 years’ old. Tim Guy subsequently joined them in 2006.

“It’s a completely different beast from then. Turnover is continuing to grow and the business is evolving with a large online presence.”

Trending street fashion store North Beach has leased 500sq m on Colombo Street, next to Ballantynes and is aiming to open on December 1.

Directors Barry and Carolyn Dee say they have wanted to open in Christchurch for a long time.

“With a great brand presence in the North Island, we thought it was finally time to give the South Island some North Beach love too. Summer is our time to shine so it's exciting to be opening at this time of year when our shops are stacked with so many great products.

“We’re very excited - it's been a long time coming, but for us it's definitely a milestone to be crossing the Cook Strait. It's a real achievement for a retailer that started peddling T-shirts at a market, to be going so strong across the country so many years later.”

North Beach began in the early 1990s, with a small market stall in Auckland. Now it has 12 stores nationwide and a strong online presence.

The family-owned business caters for a wide demographics; street, surf, skate fashion. Brands include Huffer, RPM, Lower, Federation, iLabb, and the big international favourites such as Vans, Adidas, Nike, Volcom, Thrasher, Santa Cruz, Stussy, Rusty, Champion, and Seafolly.

Meanwhile, AS Colour is moving from the site it’s occupied for the past two years, on the corner of St Asaph and Durham Streets, to another high-profile corner location closer to the core.

Now New Zealand’s largest retailer and wholesaler of blank apparel, AS Colour is opening a two-level store in the Stranges Lane complex, on the corner of High and Lichfield Streets.

Managing director Lawrence Railton says the time is right.

“We decided to start looking back at the city and we realised we needed to make a move. You either go in now and get a good location or you leave it and you’ll get one of the worst spots.

"We’re really happy with the site we’ve got – it’s a crazy shaped store – but it’s in a great location and we like being near other similar kinds of retailers.

“We like what’s happening in Christchurch, there are a lot of cool cafes and retailers are starting to move. People will start to choose the city over the malls because of the growing choice.” 

AS Colour is an apparel success story. Before the earthquakes, it had opened its first New Zealand store in Cashel Street, near Ballantynes. Now there are eight New Zealand stores, including Christchurch, and it has just opened a store in Melbourne, bringing the number of Australian stores to seven.

But retail is only a small part of AS Colour’s success, accounting for about 25 per cent of its turnover in New Zealand and 10 per cent in Australia. The core activity is in wholesaling – AS Colour is Australasia’s largest T-shirt wholesaler; it also wholesales in California and is now eyeing the UK.

Railton founded the firm in 2005 and was the sole owner until recently selling a minor stake to private equity company Direct Capital, New Zealand’s largest private equity firm.

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