New Zealand's fashion and retail industry is set for a major shake-up next year with international clothing retailer Zara coming to New Zealand.
There has been speculation for years that the Spanish clothing and accessories giant will be moving to New Zealand, and Zara has confirmed this morning that it will be opening a store in Auckland's Sylvia Park in time for Christmas shopping next year.
The retailer is keeping details around its launch secret, but it is understood that the Sylvia Park flagship store will be significant in size and will offer the full Zara range at similar pricing to its other sites around the world.
Today's news follows last month's announcement that H&M, the worlds second largest retailer behind Zara, will be moving into the Sylvia Park complex in 2016 - the first H&M store in the country.
Chris Gudgeon, chief executive of Kiwi Property, which owns Sylvia Park, said Zara and H&M would launch at a similar time late next year and he was thrilled to have secured the first Zara store in the country.
"It's good news and its about time," 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 2000 stores in 88 countries. To have secured their first New Zealand store at Sylvia Park is great news for our customers," he said.
Kiwi Property is planning to invest $11.5 million to accommodate Zara in a new ground-level store located in the mid-mall area of the shopping centre.
Gudgeon said Kiwi Property had been talking to Zara and H&M for years, with negotiations to secure Zara taking about a year. He said the opening of two of the world's largest clothing retailers in New Zealand was a tribute to the country's growing standing as a world class city.
"Auckland is increasingly becoming world class," Gudgeon said. "We have a strong food culture, fashion culture, and we're doing something with our cityscape but it is also pure logistics. Zara and H&M have become well established in Australia and so they're then using that as a springboard into New Zealand," he said.
First Retail Group managing director Chris Wilkinson said Sylvia Park was going to be a destination for Kiwis across New Zealand, adding that other retailers would need to "up their game".
"This is going to be really transformational for Sylvia Park," Wilkinson said. "Overseas it's not uncommon for consumers to travel two or three hours to get to a big shopping mall but in New Zealand we haven't really got into that because we haven't had the population or the scale of centre," said Wilkinson.
"What we'll see with Sylvia Park is that it will be a destination for people from the Bay of Plenty and from the Waikato - people will travel some serious distances to get there," he said. "It's going to herald a new way of shopping and some of these other centres will be forced to up their game significantly."
He said existing businesses were not likely to miss out with the announcement expected to benefit retailers across the board.
Documents filed by the Companies Office showed Zara Retail was registered with the NZ Companies office on October 19 this year, sparking excitement and speculation as to where the retailer might be launching first. Last week Scott Pritchard, Precinct Properties chief executive, hinted heavily at Zara opening in its newest development on Auckland's waterfront.
Pritchard said a flagship international clothing retailer not already in New Zealand would likely be going in the building, naming Zara, Uniqlo, H&M - already coming to Sylvia Park - or TopShop, already in the CBD but further up Queen St, as possibilities.
Earlier this year, Kiwi Property, which owns six shopping malls across New Zealand, announced a potential 20,000sq m, $150 million expansion of Sylvia Park with options including the addition of further international retailers, more speciality retail stores, department stores and additional customer parking under consideration.
The retail expansion project is in the pre-development phase (which includes design, consenting and pre-leasing), with construction potentially commencing in 2017 for a possible 2018 completion.
According to Gudgeon, Sylvia Park is one of the largest retail destinations in New Zealand with 12 million shoppers coming through its shopping centre every year.