AMP Capital’s $670 million redevelopment of Pacific Fair Shopping Centre on the Gold Coast has entered its final stages of completion. First-to-market designs and new store concepts underpin the ambitious vision, repositioning arguably one of Australia’s most nostalgic retail locations.
Pacific Fair was built in 1977 for $17 million and was home to 96 specialty stores. Last Thursday’s blockbuster openings of international mini-majors H&M and Uniqlo, with stores set over two levels, represented the culmination of significant investment by AMP Capital which commenced construction in early January 2014. The final touches are being administered and a completion date is mooted for July this year; with certain store fit outs awaiting pieces from overseas.
“From a brand position we are certainly competitive if not unique in what we’re delivering,” Brett Clarke, centre general manager of Pacific Fair, told media last week. “There are very few that can be named who have the calibre, as well as the breadth of the general brands as well.”
AMP’s place setting team had their work cut out to accommodate all of the major retailers, discount department stores and 420 specialty stores that are housed in the redevelopment. The design adheres to the existing infrastructure and big names Woolworths, Coles, Kmart, Big W and David Jones are spaced apart to facilitate customer engagement around the entire centre.
Just don’t forget your walking shoes. Upon completion, the centre will have increased its footprint from 103,000sqm to 153,000sqm, making it the largest in Queensland and just behind Victoria’s Chadstone across Australian shopping centres. “We wanted to create a world class, iconic, five star retail, leisure lifestyle and entertainment experience for our visitors and customers,” said Clarke. “Overarching was the ability for it to blend into its very unique, geographical location, to deliver some iconic scenes along the beachfront where you’ve got that mix of international brands, local brands and domestic brands all together in one place; that really entices you to stay, to spend the day, to enjoy what we have.”
Shoppers are greeted with a ‘front door selfie opportunity’ — Pacific Fair letters approximately three metres high. A grand staircase leads to five water features in an area called ‘the resort,’ designed for people to linger.
The historical food court is due for upgrading in the next few months with an additional section called the patio offering opportunities for licensed restaurants. Disruption caused by construction to the existing retailing community did not have a significant impact on trade, with AMP “surprised and delighted by the resilience of customers in navigating through what has at times, been a challenging environment,” said Clarke.“But they have been excited because they know it’s coming.”
Who’s who of retail
Big W has been added to the mix of discount department stores and joins Kmart and Target in the centre; while Woolworths and Coles anchor the supermarket stakes. Tommy Hilfiger, Tommy Bahama, Lacoste, Diesel, Calvin Klein underwear, Honey Birdette, Jurlique and Lululemon all opened on April 21.
Lorna Jane’s ‘active living room’ has a nutritional station at the front of its store and yoga studio out the back. Myer stands at nearly 30,000sqm and represents one of the older stores, having first opened in 1982. Stores without a Gold Coast presence previously, including Louis Vuitton and Kate Spade, have also entered the fray. Aussie fashion and lifestyle brand, Camilla’s store has an eye-catching facade, befitting the luxuriousness of one of the designer’s fashion headpieces. It has an imposing storefront, akin to the extravagant intricacies of an Islamic mosque.
“A lot of them [stores] are first to market their new design here because of the special nature of the development,” said Belinda Daly, head of shopping centre marketing, AMP Capital. Pacific’s ‘luxury precinct’ is home to Givenchy, Gucci, Tiffany, Hugo Boss and a Harrolds for both men and women.
Enter the international mini-majors
Global fast fashion retailers and international drawcards, H&M and Uniqlo, have two-level mega stores in the refurbished centre. Uniqlo’s store footprint is 1094sqm with Shoichi Miyasaka, CEO of Uniqlo Australia excited by the proposition on the Gold Coast. “We’re thrilled to bring Uniqlo to Gold Coast residents and for them to experience our product offering. We’ve seen a very positive response from Queenslanders to our range of clothing so far – and we’re confident Gold Coast shoppers will fall in love with the brand too.”
H&M’s store spans 2700sqm and stocks the Swedish retailer’s full apparel range. “We are so proud to offer Queensland four H&M stores which is the most in any state,” said Hans Andersson, Australian country manager for H&M.
Too many cooks won’t spoil the broth
With the sheer number of retailers across different categories, the risk of brand dilution is inherent when significant investment is made on a scale as with Pacific Fair. But AMP Capital isn’t worried. “If we look at Macquarie Centre [in Sydney] who have H&M, Zara, Uniqlo, we have now traded well over a year, driving traffic into a centre and getting the shopping across layers of different fashion and it has been a successful formula,” said Daly. “We can see similarities with this asset and when we’re looking at 420 retailers, we will need that traffic for all our retailers to be successful.”
With the Gold Coast hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2018; $345 transformation of nearby Jupiters Hotel & Casino; and $350 million redevelopment of Gold Coast Airport; the local Broadbeach precinct is seeing investment northward of $1.6 billion.
The current population of nearly 530,000 is expected to hit 700,000 by 2026. Paul Donovan, executive GM business development and marketing at Queensland Airports Limited, is pushing for direct flights to the Gold Coast from key international markets including New Zealand, India, China, Malaysia and Korea; AMP is looking to draw crowds from further than the 55 kilometre stretch of coast they occupy. “It’s a very strong grouping of retail partners and brands with some more to announce,” said Clarke.
“It will certainly consistently draw the day tripper from Brisbane as well as the north coast as well as potentially Sydney and Melbourne. Considering the exchange rate at the moment, what we’re presenting to the market is all of your favourite opportunities here under one roof.”
Access exclusive analysis, locked news and reports with Inside Retail Weekly. Subscribe today and get our premium print publication delivered to your door every week.