The shakeup of Australia’s retail scene marches on with yet more indication of where and how international retailer Zara may opt to enter the market. Amid all the rumpled of whom is involved and where their first store is set to open one thing is firming up: Zara is set to pick Melbourne as its first Australian home.
The question is, however, where in Melbourne? We have an idea.
First the background: with a location already secured in Sydney, Zara is also keen to find a Melbourne home. Sydney, however, has not only seen New South Wales’ delayed until April or May of 2011, it is believed that a deal has tied Zara’s interests in Australia to Westfield shopping centres. Well, not so much tied, but at least preventing them from opening in the shopping centres of competitors such as Colonial. Instantly Chadstone is ruled out.
Where then in Melbourne? Shopping centre Doncaster is too risky a location, while Highpoint (also owned by Westfield) will remain too down market until its 2012 renovations begin.
The answer for Melbourne: we’ve been told (and it may be in this week’s Ragtrader, though we haven’t been able to find an issue to confirm it) that the city’s Bourke Street shopping strip will be called home. Which has pros and cons for Zara. A vibeless location, it’s a mix of department stores and chain retailers that never quite seem to do well enough out of the location. It is, however, the city location to attract the most amount of foot traffic.
It is understood that the mix of soft competition and store availability has seen Zara take up the lease on a rather large retail location that will place it within walking distance of Bourke Street’s nearest intersection, Swanston Street. (For those who know the city, the location will be the former Supre store). This prized location will give the Zara flagship up to three levels of retail space, plenty of foot traffic, and competition in the area operating on a much smaller scale.
As for an opening date? We’re still hearing before Autumn 2011 – a fact confirmed by the fact that the rebuilding of the premise’s interior has already begun as Fashionising.com found out this morning.