Retail, Innovation and Manufacturing reporter for the NZ Herald

H&M, Zara Wellington-bound says expert

Sylvia Park is preparing for the opening of Zara. Photo /Michael Craig
Sylvia Park is preparing for the opening of Zara. Photo /Michael Craig

As Sylvia Park prepares for the opening of Zara tomorrow, retail experts are saying Wellington may be next on the cards.

The world's largest fashion retailer will open the doors on its first New Zealand store tomorrow at 9.30am - just a week after thousands turned up for the launch of H&M.

Excitement has been building since the two brands announced last year that they were launching in New Zealand, and First Retail Group managing director Chris Wilkinson said they would likely expand once the initial stores were bedded down.

"Without a doubt [they will look at] Wellington because of the population and the demographic," Wilkinson said. "The South Island will be more of a challenge, certainly the size and scale. Places like Hamilton may also be on the cards - growth there is exciting,"
he said.

"Commercial Bay 2018 is the second [H&M store planned] in Auckland but they will be looking to get some others into the country before then my guess would be."

The New Zealand launch marks Zara's 93rd market with the one-storey Sylvia Park store offering all of the brand's clothing collections including women's, men's and children's clothing, with stock updated twice a week.

The company has assigned staff to create its Southern Hemisphere collection with a team focused specifically on understanding the New Zealand market.

Zara's chief communications officer Jesus Echevarria said he was excited to be launching in the country and hoped to meet customer expectations.

"We see a lot of opportunity in New Zealand, customers here love fashion," Echevarria said.

"We'll have to see how Zara's collections are going to be received and learn from it. This is our constant challenge - to try to learn from customers' demands and adapt the collections in store consequently with the correct customer service."

Zara has kept its opening plans quiet, preferring to hold a low-key fashion media event on the morning, before opening to the wider public.

In contrast, H&M hosted a pre-launch VIP night party before opening on Saturday to fanfare.

Wilkinson said the low-key launch was likely a reaction to H&M having already set the bar at their opening, as well as just wanting to open and begin trading.

"I think the difference between the brands is Zara has a quiet confidence, and that's one of the things we have noticed," Wilkinson said.

"They have got so many stores going in at the moment so while it's a big deal for us, for Zara it's probably one of three stores opening that week around the globe," he said.

"For them it's nothing really that special - they probably want to get the store open and start making some money."

The company manufactures most of its items close to its design distribution centres in Spain which allows it to deliver in-demand items worldwide twice per week, which Echevarria said allowed it to stay competitive.

"Once an item sells out, we do not reproduce it to ensure that we are always offering our customers fresh products each time they visit the store, whenever this might be within the fashion season," he said.

Zara, which is part of Inditex Group, has 2,021 stores globally and is renowned for its reproductions of designer clothes.

It opened its first store in Spain in 1975 and is worth US$10.7 billion, according to Forbes. Its owner Amancio Ortega is the second wealthiest man in the world, after Bill Gates.

- NZ Herald

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