Retailers divided over H&M buzz
March 31, 2017
Lower Hutt retailers are divided over the possibility of clothing giant H&M opening a store in earthquake-damaged Queensgate Shopping Centre later this year.
Queensgate management refused to confirm the identity of a new tenant who was set to move in to a double-level vacant space in the western wing of the mall later this year.
However, this had not stopped speculation among Lower Hutt retailers that they would soon be facing competition from the Swedish clothing company, which had only one New Zealand store at Sylvia Park Shopping Centre in Auckland.
Lower Hutt’s She Preloved Centre City Plaza business owner Dru Reid said an H&M store was a “waste of time” as retailers were moving to Petone instead of Queensgate.
“People don’t even want to park in there, let alone go in there. Everyone notices how quiet it is.”
Reid said the store would be like “another Farmers” due to its size, and she had concerns it would take over smaller businesses both inside and nearby the mall.
“It’s a shame for the little retailers…I don’t think the timing is right.”
Reid said hype for the rumoured store could be “short-lived” and she expected people to “make up their own minds” when it opened.
Clothing retailer Cotton On Lower Hutt assistant manager Lee Ellison said she was glad H&M coming to Queensgate, as it would encourage healthy competition.
Smaller clothing brands had “mixed feelings” about the store, but Cotton On, which was also in the mall, would not be affected, she said.
Ballentynes Fashion Central Lower Hutt was not a tenant of the shopping centre, but manager Valerie Mexted said she was looking forward to the reopening of the remaining parts of Queensgate, closed since the 7.8-magnitude Kaikoura earthquake last year.
“They are bringing customers back to us.”
She believed shoppers had gone to Upper Hutt because of a lack of car parks in Queensgate, when they had previously walked over to High Street from the mall.
Queensgate owners Stride Property Management public relations advisor Rod Webber would not confirm whether H&M would be moving in to Queensgate.
“We can’t and won’t confirm who the tenant is that is going into the vacant space.”