15/10/2020 - 15:30

Yagan Square needing revival, passion

15/10/2020 - 15:30


Save articles for future reference.

A further two businesses have exited Yagan Square, taking the number of departures to 10 since the precinct opened in 2018, as retailers face pressure.

Yagan Square's market hall in September. Photo: Matt Mckenzie

A further two businesses have exited Yagan Square, taking the number of departures to 10 since the precinct opened in 2018, as retailers face pressure.

That comes amid calls for action for the square's operator, government-owned DevelopmentWA, to bring life to the precinct, which has suffered during COVID-19.

Henry Little and Toast My Curry have left their market hall tenancies since Business News last reported on the precinct one month ago.

Toast My Curry remains in operation elsewhere, while Henry Little’s operations were unclear at the time of writing.

It takes the number of vacancies since COVID-19 to seven.

The pressure has only ratcheted up this month.

While tenants had been offered rent relief during the pandemic, many have rent payments due to start again in October.

Business News understands some tenants have also been approached by property manager CBRE about an increase in outgoings of more than 50 per cent.

That is all happening as the federal government’s JobKeeper program is being wound back.

Among some of the many tenants who have traded at the square, frustrations have included a lack of foot traffic through the food hall, heavy restrictions on marketing, and a lack of initiative from the property owners.

COVID-19 had only exacerbated long-term problems, they said.

One industry observer said city retail had been struggling for a few years.

Yagan Square was a prevalent example because the precinct was filled with local, independent small businesses, which may need extra guidance as they transition into brick-and-mortar tenancies, he said.

“It needs investment, ideas, enthusiasm,” the observer said.

“I don’t think you’re going to get that in government.

“Yagan Square has suffered in the transition from Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority to DevelopmentWA.

“COVID-19 is a good excuse to hide behind.

“We’re all being affected, it’s how much you want to put in.”

One solution would be to sell the precinct to a private investor with more experience in food and beverage operations, he said.

But there have been positives in recent weeks.

Business News understands two tenants are lining up to fill the vacancies.

Yagan Square was selected as one of 13 winners in the Urban Land Institute Asia Pacific Awards for Excellence, which highlighted its engagement with indigenous stakeholders.

Longer term, the land opposite Yagan Square could play home to a new Edith Cowan University campus.

DevelopmentWA chief executive Frank Marra said Yagan Square had helped put Perth on the map as a tourist location.

"Unfortunately, Yagan Square has not escaped the effects of the coronavirus pandemic which has had a significant impact on many businesses both locally, nationally and internationally," Mr Marra said.

"To support the tenants, DevelopmentWA waived the tenants rent for six months through the McGowan Government’s Covid-19 small business relief package.

"In addition, DevelopmentWA is continuing to work with tenants to ensure Yagan Square is a success, with a number of activation and marketing initiatives in development.

"Also a range of promotional initiatives are frequently implemented including the use of the digital tower, and our website, Instagram and Facebook.

"Before the pandemic three tenants left but were quickly replaced. Since the pandemic struck seven tenants have closed their doors."


Subscription Options