Queensgate silent on H&M rumours
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.
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.