Queens­gate silent on H&M ru­mours

The Dominion Post - - Business - CHLOE WIN­TER AND AN­DRE CHUMKO

The iden­tity of a ma­jor re­tailer set to move into earth­quake-dam­aged Queens­gate Shop­ping Cen­tre later this year is likely to re­main a se­cret un­til June.

How­ever, sources be­lieve it is global cloth­ing brand H&M.

Roy Stans­field, gen­eral man­ager of re­tail at Stride Prop­erty, which owns the mall, said he was bound by a con­fi­den­tial­ity agree­ment, meaning he could not dis­close the name of the new re­tailer.

When asked whether it was H&M, Stans­field said: ‘‘I can­not con­firm or deny that.’’

Work has be­gun on the store for the re­tailer, which spans 2000 square me­tres over two floors.

Con­trac­tors were on site work­ing on the ba­sic lay­out of the store, ready for the re­tailer to ar­rive to com­plete the fitout.

The store is set to open in Novem­ber, but the fitout is ex­pected to take a cou­ple of months.

Hoard­ings have been erected, and generic sig­nage had been stuck around the site promis­ing an ‘‘ex­cit­ing new store’’.

Re­tail­ers in Lower Hutt are di­vided over what H&M would mean for re­tail­ing in the area.

Dru Reid, the owner of She Preloved in the Cen­tre City Plaza, 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.

Lee El­li­son, as­sis­tant manger of cloth­ing re­tailer Cot­ton On, said she was ‘‘glad they are 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, El­li­son said.

Bal­len­tynes Fash­ion Cen­tral is in High St, 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 St from the mall.

Queens­gate Mall’s car park and cin­ema suf­fered struc­tural dam­age from the Novem­ber 14 quake and its own­ers were forced to de­mol­ish part of it.

Stride Prop­erty has said the last stores left closed by the de­mo­li­tion would re­open on April 6.

PHO­TOS: FAIRFAX NZ

Re­tailer Dru Reid be­lieves the open­ing of an H&M store at Queens­gate Shop­ping Cen­tre would take cus­tomers away from smaller busi­nesses.

Last week, plas­tic wrap­ping was fit­ted to the dam­aged sec­tion of the mall. Project man­ager Scott Duncan is pleased with how the de­mo­li­tion has gone.

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