Retailers vie for top spots in retail precinct
Retailers are jostling to secure shops in a new retail precinct under construction in central Christchurch.
Leasing agents and landlords say things have reached a tipping point as the new buildings take shape, and international fashion brands are vying with locals for the best spots.
"The whole of our Cashel St frontage is full, and our Hereford St side is half-full," said landlord Nick Hunt, whose BNZ Centre would be the first development finished in the precinct.
"They're significant tenants we've signed up, I'm feeling optimistic about the whole thing."
Retail rents were double pre-quake levels, and retailers had not needed financial incentives to sign up, Hunt said.
Tenants so far confirmed or tipped for the retail precinct included Kiwi fashion stores Glassons, Hallensteins, and Barkers, British brand Top Shop, locally-owned Scorpio Books, and burger chain Wendys. Many others were known to be negotiating but were keeping details under wraps for now.
Australian company Brandbank, owner of fashion stores Seed Heritage, French Connection, and Nine West, was eyeing up the precinct after launching in Auckland recently. A spokeswoman confirmed they were "definitely looking" at Christchurch, and said they would be making announcements later this month.
The ANZ Centre on the Triangle Centre site was also expected to name a line-up of fashion tenants within weeks.
Scorpio Books owner David Cameron said it was scary, but "very exciting" to be opening in the new BNZ Centre in November.
"It's a leap of faith, but we're keen to be there and there's already more activity happening."
Leasing agents said tenants for the precinct would include well known local, national and international brands, and independent stores. Some would be new to the South Island.
Ryan Geddes of Savills said most "flagship" retail spots in the new developments were spoken for. More certainty about office workers, car parking, and apartment projects for the central city meant retailers were now "queueing up for a piece of the action."
Colliers' Nick Doig confirmed the heaviest demand was for shops facing Cashel St, and businesses were "starting to embrace the laneways concept".
Aubrey Cheng, from Match, said while tenant inquiry for prime street-front sites had picked up sharply, he expected the laneways would prove harder to lease.
Cheng promised the retail precinct would have upscale stores "but not all fancy pants and high end, there's a brilliant blend".
Retail consultant Chris Wilkinson, of First Retail, recently brought three major brand retailers to see central Christchurch. He said they were impressed by the designs for the precinct, and access to the river and customer bases in new office buildings.
"It has put New Zealand on the radar for these retailers - what's happened in the Christchurch rebuild is exciting retailers and they're scoping out opportunities. The (Re:Start) container park has been a catalyst and given them a taste of Christchurch.
"The building work gives them a lot more confidence, it's reality now."
Wilkinson said his clients wanted something different from the "sameness" of shopping centres, and saw opportunities in Christchurch for new concept stores. He said getting good cafe and hospitality outlets in the precinct was key.
"It's one of the biggest game changers in retail. Shoppers want something unique, and good coffee - they have high expectations."
Retail precinct developments under way in Christchurch:
- ANZ Centre
- The Crossing
- BNZ Centre
- The Terrace
- Plymouth Lane