A flurry of new store openings in Wellington in March is further evidence that national and international retailers are giving the city a vote of confidence, according to Colliers International.
Ty Dallas, retail leasing specialist at Colliers International, says six new stores have recently opened or are about to open in Wellington’s CBD: Trelise Cooper, Rembrandt, Stewart Dawsons, Platypus, Vodafone and Adairs.
"Following the success of the David Jones department store, we have seen an unprecedented demand for retail space in Wellington from national and international retailers. In my 17-year leasing career, this number of store openings in the city in one month is unheard of. It reflects the real positivity in the market."
The ‘full house’ sign is about to go up on Lambton Quay, which is now effectively 99% occupied, says Dallas. Only 500m2 of vacant space is still available out of a total of 49,000m2 of retail space on the premier shopping strip.
"Australasian retailers are queuing up to get in and are frustrated by the lack of available space, particularly on Lambton Quay," Dallas says.
"Property investor confidence is high as a result, with a recent Colliers research survey showing investors in Wellington retail property are more confident than they have been in eight years."
Two of the new stores – Platypus and Adairs – are Australia-based and, like many other Australian retailers, view New Zealand as a natural extension of their own market, he says.
"A lot of retailers are at saturation point in Australia and are now looking to New Zealand to increase their balance sheet. Off the back of the recent success of other Australian retailers such as David Jones and Wittner opening here, Wellington is becoming known as the city of global brands."
David Jones’ Wellington store was the first in New Zealand to offer several international brands including Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Valentino and Saint Laurent.
The new stores
One of New Zealand’s most influential fashion designers, Trelise Cooper, has opened a 191m2 flagship boutique at 163 Featherston St, next door to Melbourne-based footwear retailer Wittner and near the David Jones store.
"The new Trelise Cooper store is in my opinion one of the best looking fashion stores in the country," says Dallas.
"The glamorous fitout can be favourably compared with stores on Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles or Fifth Avenue in New York."
Trelise Cooper marketing director Julia Leuchars says the company chose the location after weighing up various options.
"We feel this is a really dynamic area of the city. There are lots of beautiful international boutiques around us and it’s an exciting, fun and fashionable area."
Last week, well-established New Zealand menswear brand Rembrandt opened its eighth store, in a former police station building at 40 Johnston St. It offers a full range of menswear including tailor-made suits and suit hire services.
"Rembrandt is pleased with its location directly opposite David Jones and the special feel of the heritage building. The company has invested in a stylish fit-out and inside the entrance of the new store is a wall devoted to telling the story of the brand’s 70 years in menswear," says Dallas.
After 116 years on the corner of Lambton Quay and Willis Street, which is known as Stewart Dawsons corner, the jewellery retailer will soon open a new 100m2 store four doors away from its original site, in the former Mimco premises at 342 Lambton Quay. Mimco has consolidated its position into the David Jones department store at 165 Lambton Quay.
Melbourne-based footwear retailer Platypus is opening its 87th store on the corner of the James Smith building on the corner of Cuba and Manners Streets on March 22. It is the chain’s 13th store in New Zealand and the retailer has committed $650,000 for a cutting-edge international-standard fit out.
Vodafone is also soon to complete a high-tech fitout for a 246m2 flagship store at 190 Lambton Quay, near Farmers.
Also Australian homeware and manchester retailer Adairs has just opened its third store in New Zealand at Capital Gateway Shopping Centre on Thorndon Quay. It offers a fashion-forward range of bed linen, towels, cushions, homewares, furniture and related products. The strong activity in the housing market has encouraged Adairs’ expansion in New Zealand, Dallas says. The retailer has 140 stores across the Tasman.
More international retailers were coming to Wellington soon but could not be revealed who they were for commercially sensitive reasons, says Dallas.