Work on Sydney’s light rail project in George street.9th March 2017.Photo: Steven Siewert There is a new wave of retailers calling the City of Sydney home as they take advantage of the changing face of the streets and the opening of stores as other tenants exit.
Although the Pitt Street Mall is close to capacity, the strip will see new brands enter the fold with the pending departures of Forever 21 and General Pant.
But the lack of space has led retailers to look elsewhere and George Street has become a most sought-after strip with its redevelopment closer to completion.
Latest to open is the Nike flagship store at 319 George Street.
According to Ashley Reade, Nike Australia general manager, George Street was chosen for its “go-to destination” for sports lovers and “sneakerheads”.
The central George Street location, the first high street store for Nike in Australia, will sell an expansive collection of Nike footwear, apparel and accessories, and some of the brand’s more innovative products.
The three-level store will be more than 967 square metres in the heritage building. The ground floor is dedicated to men’s training and running, and sportswear, while the Jordan Brand and basketball can be found on the store’s basement level. Women’s attire will be on the first floor with a “bra bar complete with Nike’s specialised bra-fitting service along with pant hemming”.
“The Nike George Street store offers unparalleled sport retail experiences – providing the best of Nike products and services under one roof. Whether you’re training for a marathon, or you love sneakers, Nike George Street will help you unleash your potential,” Mr Reade said.
Nike’s arrival comes as Sydney’s retail market is in the midst of a transformation, according to recent reports from Knight Frank.
In the Sydney CBD, new developments on George Street will add about 8000sq m of new prime retail space to the market, expanding the CBD prime retail core.
The $75 million redevelopment of ISPT George Place at 345 George Street will add a further 3000sq m, while the Fife Capital development at York & George, 383 George Street, will add a further 5000sq m.
Knight Frank retail leasing executive Adam Tyler said that, while the NSW government’s light rail construction is causing some disruption to retailers in the short term, the outlook for George Street is strong.
“The light rail will contribute to the future rejuvenation of George Street with many retailers using this opportunity to secure prime positions in the soon-to-be-pedestrianised precinct. Mick Simmons will open at 317 George Street and Superdry at 395 George Street,” Mr Tyler said.
Late 2016 saw the completion of Charter Hall’s 333 George Street office-led development.
This is the first of a wave of new mixed-use developments along George Street, following the construction of the light rail. NAB and HSBC established flagship branches at 333 George Street, while Woolworths leased the lower ground floor for its Metro concept store. A second wave of mixed-use developments are planned for 280 George Street and 275 George Street.
Despite a slight increase in vacancy in Sydney’s prime CBD retail core over the past 12 months, up from 1.8 per cent to 2.6 per cent, and numerous retailers ceasing operations, the outlook remains positive for Sydney’s retail market.
Knight Frank research analyst Marco Mascitelli says the rise in vacancy levels presents an opportunity for new retailers to enter the market.
“With large clothing retailers like Marcs, David Lawrence, Kit & Ace and soon Gap Australia ceasing operations, vacancies in tightly-held areas of Pitt Street, Park Street and Martin Place have opened up, allowing new entrants to penetrate some of the most sought-after retail strips in Australia,” Mr Mascitelli said.
“Shopping centre vacancy levels in Sydney CBD remained steady at 2.3 per cent in the 12 months to July 2017. The most notable movements include Tiffany & Co occupying space in Westfield, in addition to the luxury jeweller developing its new flagship store at 175 Pitt Street, along with Swarovski moving into the ex-Lovisa space in MidCity Centre.”