Scentre Group is gearing up to unveil its next-generation dining and entertainment precinct at Westfield Whitford City, one of several planned upgrades to its shopping centres across Perth.
The new-look Whitford City will open in late September, with Scentre Group promising a full entertainment and dining offering featuring 14 food and beverage operators and an Event Cinemas complex, including a Gold Class Cinema, as well as a bowling alley.
Scentre Group WA general manager of development Roy Gruenpeter said the precinct would be a fourth-generation rollout across Australia, building on concepts in place at its malls in NSW and Queensland.
Mr Gruenpeter said the Whitford City food precinct would feature Hunter & Barrel (a restaurant concept from Seagrass Hospitality Group, which introduced Ribs & Burgers to Perth at 140 in the CBD), and Whitfords Brewing Company, a brewpub offering from the team behind Northbridge Brewing Company.
Asian eatery and dumplings house Miss Chow’s will also expand its offering with a Whitford City store, as will Bangkok Brothers, which opened its first Perth restaurant in Northbridge last year.
“What we’re really focused on providing that northern catchment is something, in terms of brands, quite unique and different to what you would find not only in that catchment, but in shopping centres in general, from a dining perspective,” Mr Gruenpeter told Business News.
“We’re out to bring the very best of Perth to one destination, and certainly that northern catchment is going to benefit from a fantastic, really vibrant, exciting, fresh food dining and leisure offer.”
Scentre Group and its Whitford City co-owner GIC have spent $80 million on the entertainment precinct, while also investing heavily in aesthetic upgrades throughout the existing shopping centre.
Mr Gruenpeter said Scentre Group had sought to capture the beachy, resort-style lifestyle of Perth’s northern suburbs throughout the precinct, while a further expansion, including a new David Jones store, is in the planning phase.
In all, Scentre Group is spending more than $900 million on Perth redevelopments, comprising a $350 million revamp at Westfield Carousel, a $450 million expansion of Westfield Innaloo, as well as the Whitford works.
With work also under way at Carousel, Mr Gruenpeter said Scentre Group was aiming to position itself at the forefront of a near $4 billion Perth shopping centre development pipeline.
Scentre Group competitor Vicinity Centres recently began work on a $100 million expansion of its Midland Gate Shopping Centre, while construction started last year on a $350 million revamp of its Mandurah Forum.
Vicinity is planning to spend $800 million upgrading its Galleria Shopping Centre, while it will also construct a $150 million Direct Factory Outlet mall at Perth Airport.
AMP Capital is also investing heavily in its malls, with Multiplex expected to start construction by the middle of the year on a $650 million upgrade of Karrinyup Shopping Centre, while Scentre Group will also manage construction of a $750 million redevelopment of AMP’s Garden City Booragoon, under a third-party design-and-construct deal.
“We would like to consider ourselves as the market leaders within the retail space and we are really excited in being one of the first to market in terms of these comprehensive precincts,” Mr Gruenpeter said.
“It’s hugely important to us and we’ll just continue to focus on bringing the very best of what we’ve got to provide the various customer bases what they need and we work very hard towards that.”
To ensure retailers are ready for the expansions, Scentre Group recently launched an incubation program, giving local businesses access to industry experts to hone their offering before opening their stores.
Mr Gruenpeter said 16 potential retailers had attended the first two-day workshop, which featured a panel of experts including Westpac senior development manager Steve Seddon and Catalyst to Success director Samantha Reece.
“The retailing landscape is highly competitive, so our approach is really working towards fostering solid partnerships with these retailers, and that’s something we’re highly focused on,” Mr Gruenpeter told Business News.
“We’ve put a lot of time and effort into understanding their businesses, understanding their capability and then working out how that partnership fits between ourselves and them, to ensure that they are set up for success as well as ourselves.
“A lot of work goes into fostering those relationships and understanding their businesses before we decide who might be appropriate for inclusion into the mix.”
A staged upgrade, including a new food precinct, is also under way at Perron Group’s Belmont Forum, with four restaurants unveiled last month.
Perth’s largest locally owned shopping centre owner, Perron Group is arguably the first mover in establishing expansive food precincts at its shopping centres, with its Cockburn Gateway Shopping Centre the first WA mall to include high-street style restaurants open outside of normal shopping hours.
At Belmont, Perron Group introduced schnitzel restaurant Schnitz to Perth last month, along with Japanese ramen bar Sakaba, Chinese eatery Canton Lane and Mexican restaurant Guzman Y Gomez.
The dining precinct is part of a $65 million expansion of Belmont Forum, which will also comprise a new fresh-food precinct and a Coles supermarket.
The Belmont Forum redevelopment is expected to be complete by mid-2018.