Retail sector’s luxury revival
THE influx of luxury global brands into Queensland is leading the way for the reinvention of its struggling bricks and mortar retail sector from the inside.
In the face of what is being dubbed a "retail apocalypse" - with a rising number of retailers downsizing or closing their doors - the ante is being upped on in-store experiences.
According to Projects Queensland Interiors general manager Craig Stewart, high-end brands such as Louis Vuitton, Bottega Veneta and a host of others are continuing to spend up big on store fit-outs.
"These brands are ahead of the game and understand their markets," he said.
"In terms of their retail presence, they are all about the experience and I think that's why they have been expanding exponentially over the past decade.
"It's not just about having the product, its about going into the store and feeling it, touching it and experiencing the luxury.
"They're putting in things like VIP lounges to make that in-store experience even more personal … and I think that's really upped the ante.
"It's a glimpse at the future for bricks and mortar retailing in many respects."
Gold Coast-based Projects Queensland Interiors has undertaken 35,000sq m of store fit-outs in Australia, much of it for high-end brands such as Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co, Bottega Veneta, Gucci and TAG Heuer.
Mr Stewart said while many other retailers were downsizing or closing down, the footprints of luxury brand stores were increasing.
"It's the global brands that are still progressing and moving forward," he said.
"There's a lot of movement in Brisbane at the moment and the stores are either redeveloping or getting bigger footprints.
"Going back 10 or 15 years, the footprints of these high-end stores were only about 100sq m but now they are 400sq m or more, double storey with bigger facades.
"They are not holding back or shying away from growth at the moment and they've got a lot of plans … expansion works and new stores."
Mr Stewart said another luxury retail precinct was likely to emerge in the Brisbane CBD in the near future with the development of Queen's Wharf.
"There will certainly be movement in that direction but I think it will be an opportunity for a second CBD location for these brands and they will remain in Queen Street Mall and Edward St," he said.
QUT retail expert, Professor Gary Mortimer said with more than 40 global retailers represented in Australia there was still plenty of growth in the market.
"Shopping for luxury brands is very much about the experience over price and customers have high expectations," he said.
"Retailers in this space are focusing more on the atmospherics, lighting, technology, imagery and customer service than ever before and these are drivers for their growth."