Harris Scarfe eyes Aherns

HARRIS Scarfe would be more than willing to step in to fill the gap if retail giant David Jones pulls out of Rockingham City Shopping Centre.

Uncertainty has surrounded the future of the centre’s Aherns store since David Jones took over the five stores last year.

With a small floor space of just 1500sqm and an unknown market, David Jones has been reluctant to signal long-term involvement with the Rockingham store.

The centre’s major drawcard could be replaced with a Harris Scarfe store, with the Adelaide-based company eager to continue its expansion into WA.

National property operations manager Tony Dutton confirmed preliminary talks had taken place between Harris Scarfe and centre majority owners Colonial First State.

“There have been talks … we have registered our interest in moving into the Aherns store,” Mr Dutton said.

“We would like to get into the Rockingham area.”

Harris Scarfe marketing manager Karen Nelson-Fields said the chain retailer had been looking toward Rockingham and was confident of success in the area.

“Our position is value for money and stores in major centres really work well for us,” Ms Nelson-Fields said.

“We tend to find we like to take up residence in shopping centres when there is a gap left by another retailer … it is not quite as expensive.”

David Jones has taken over the Rockingham store four-year lease, but is uncertain how profitable the store would prove.

“The (David Jones) stores are up-market and people in the top income percentiles are our core shoppers … there is an element of that kind of income in Rockingham but we need a greater density of it,” David Jones stores manager Don Groves said.

“And the Rockingham store is unlike any other David Jones store in terms of size … we couldn’t fit our entire range in.”

The existing small floor space is also an issue for Harris Scarfe but with a $60 million centre upgrade and expansion planned for later this year, the problem is likely to be resolved.

Colonial First State has proposed the redevelopment to convert Rockingham City Shopping Centre into a major shopping destination within the south metropolitan area.

Colonial First State asset manager Ian Spackman said the refurbishment had been in the pipeline for years and was long overdue.

Included in the proposed redevelopment is an eight-cinema complex, a third discount department store, a third supermarket and 20 specialty stores.

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