The first New Zealand retail outlet for the world's biggest clothing chain is now being developed, ready for its opening before this Christmas.
Zara, renowned for its fast reproduction of the latest designer trends, is soon opening at Sylvia Park as its first step here by the business headed by the world's second richest man.
Zara chief executive and Spaniard Amancio Ortega appeared on the latest Forbes Rich List with a US$467 billion fortune and listed NZX business Kiwi Property is Zara's landlord.
Kiwi is spending more than $11 million, gutting an existing line of stores in the centre of its mall near the foodcourt and building out behind the existing mall wall in a carpark, to create a new mega-store.
That anchor tenancy is being developed between Rodd & Gunn at the Southern Motorway end and Esprit towards the Mt Wellington end of the mall. Stores now trading opposite the area being developed are Trenery, Cue, David Lawrence, Kookai and Glassons.
"We are working hard behind the scenes to bring you something fabulous", says an exterior hoarding sign although nothing mentions Zara, expected to stage a big promotion of its first opening here.
Naylor Love has its name on barrier fences around the site where one mobile crawler crane, two diggers and a crew of construction workers and subcontractors are in action. Dominion Constructors also has a presence.
Kiwi Property will invest $11.5 million to accommodate Zara in a new ground level store located in the mid-mall area of the shopping centre.
Foundations for the extension are down and footings are being dug. Part of the rooftop carpark has been fenced off for safety.
Zara is the largest international fashion company in the world, owned by Inditex which is one of the world's largest distribution groups and fashion retailers with eight brands, more 6700 stores and 140,000 people in its workforce.
Inditex brands are Zara, Pull&Bear, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Stradivarius, Oysho, Zara Home and Uterqie.
Inditex was listed on the Madrid stock exchange in 2001.
Zara's had explosive growth over the last 10 years, opening in countries all around the world so we're part of that. Ten years ago, New Zealand didn't have a lot of international brands.
On December 14 last year, Kiwi revealed how much it was spending to snare Zara.
"Kiwi Property will invest $11.5 million to accommodate Zara in a new ground level store located in the mid-mall area of the shopping centre," it said then.
"Kiwi Property today announced that international fashion giant, Zara, will open its first New Zealand store at Sylvia Park, Auckland's largest shopping centre, in late 2016.
Chief executive, Chris Gudgeon, said: "The excitement is building for our Sylvia Park shoppers. Zara is known the world over as a leading fashion giant, with more than 2,000 stores in 88 countries. To have secured their first New Zealand store at Sylvia Park is great news for our customers. We are firm believers in investing in Auckland's growth, and bringing Zara to Sylvia Park is part of our plan to create a truly world-class retail offer in an increasingly world-class city," a NZX announcement said.
Sylvia Park draws more than 12 million shoppers annually.
John Polkinghorne, associate research director of retail specialists RCG, said Zara's arrival was extremely significant for his sector and the mall.
"Zara's had explosive growth over the last 10 years, opening in countries all around the world so we're part of that. Ten years ago, New Zealand didn't have a lot of international brands," he said.
Sylvia Park is New Zealand's longest mall and Polkinghorne said its configuration mirrored a traditional street, with shops on both sides down a long stretch.
Chris Wilkinson, First Retail Group managing director, was impressed by the scale of works.
"We were there last week as a number of our clients have stores in the centre or nearby. It's an epic project of the kind of scale we've seen with malls in the UK and US. Zara's central location will drive footfall, benefiting wider mall tenancies. It will be an anchor tenancy which Sylvia Park has lacked. Exciting times for the retail sector as this is helping 'lift all the boats'," he said.
See a Google map of the Sylvia Park shopping mall here: