Food, entertainment the new frontier

30/09/2014 - 12:13

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After 10 years of limited development, Perth’s major shopping centres are expanding and evolving.

Food, entertainment the new frontier

After 10 years of limited development, Perth’s major shopping centres are expanding and evolving. 

Move over Westfield Carousel, there’s about to be new king in Perth’s shopping centre sector.

Lakeside Joondalup Shopping City is set to snatch the crown of Perth’s largest mall, as it puts the finishing touches on a $300 million expansion to 96,000 square metres.

However, the centre’s reign at the top could be short-lived, with a $750 million plan in motion to expand Garden City Booragoon to 120,000sqm.

The expansions come four years after the state government relaxed a restriction on the size to which shopping centres can expand to in Western Australia.

In total, there are about $785 million worth of shopping centre expansions under construction in the metropolitan area, adding a total of just less than 125,000sqm of space – more than any of Perth’s existing centres – to the market.

In the planning pipeline, however, there is at least $1.3 billion in proposals to add a further 143,000sqm.

However, despite the investment push, Perth centres have a lot of catching up to do before they are considered equal to interstate offerings.

“Even at 90,000sqm, Lakeside once it’s finished will be just the 22ndlargest centre in Australia,” Burgess Rawson director Cameron Hopkins said.

“By comparison, Chadstone (in Melbourne) is almost 200,000sqm.

“That’s a centre, that no matter where you live in Melbourne, you’ll go there.

“In Perth, are we going to allow our shopping centres to get big enough to draw people from a very large catchment area?”

The expansions under way in Perth are focused on more than just adding new shops – it’s largely about enhancing the customer experience.

Hawaiian managing director Russell Gibbs said developers needed to ensure a centre is more than a collection of individual stores.

“It needs to be a place where people can relax, where people can go and meet friends, where they can sit around and have a drink, have a coffee, have a chat, and also there needs to be a place where kids can play where they are safe,” Mr Gibbs told Business News.

“In The Mezz in Mount Hawthorn there’s a kids playground, we also have outdoor television sets, an outdoor fire, we’ve just created somewhere for people to hang out.

“It’s not just the hard components; it’s the soft components as well.”

 Lease Equity managing director Jim Tsagalis said there were two aspects to the evolution of Perth’s shopping centres – with the first, the focus on experience, a global trend.

“The other part is that there are more and more people going to the hospitality sector,” Mr Tsagalis said.

“Therefore the quality of the industry is getting better, and the aspirations of those operators is meeting what customers want.”

Perron Group’s $100 million redevelopment of Cockburn Gateway Shopping City, which is expected to open at the end of October, is set to unveil a suite of fresh food options to attract consumers.

Food offerings set to open at Cockburn include the state’s first Lone Star Rib House, a flagship suburban outlet for Northbridge’s Dragon Palace, while Greece-based frozen yogurt store, Ugolicious, will also open its first Australian outlet.

Rounding out the offering at Cockburn are burger joint Grill’d, Chocolateria San Churro, Guzman Y Gomez, Coffee Club and Nandos.

Perron Group general manager of property investment, Andrew Byars, said the centre expansion had transformed it from a retail centre to a food and entertainment destination.

“With alfresco dining, a playground, water feature and stage area, Cockburn Gateway Shopping City will be a significant new destination to explore this spring and summer,” Mr Byars said.

Roxby Architects director Adam Roxby, who credited a contract with Betts Group in the company’s early days for its rise to prominence as a retail fit-out specialist, said individual retailers were also embracing the experience-based approach.

He said seasoned retailers were using stores to promote a brand almost more than to sell their actual products.

“The product is always available online, so they need somewhere to give their brand reinforcement,” Adam Roxby told Business News.

“It’s probably fair to say that the design of shops now is less about how much stock you can put on the shelves, but more about how eye-catching you can make that shop.

“The shopping centres are creating spaces as they have always done, but they have to recreate the spaces as somewhere where people want to hang out.”

His fellow director, Michael Roxby, said technology was also playing a huge part in retail design.

“The fact you can enter a retail space and your phone can pick up that you’ve entered the space and you receive a message directing you to a product, that’s huge,” he said.

“Retail had been kind of the same for a good 10 years, nothing really changed, but now with social media and the accessibility of smartphones, retail started to change and has changed very quickly.

“There are small retailers who couldn’t keep up that fell by the wayside and a lot of big retailers are only just catching up.”

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