Luxury retailers are defying market jitters

Luxury retailers are defying the pandemic-hit economy with a spate of new store openings as they prepare for an influx of shoppers once international travel restriction for tourists are withdrawn.

One of the latest is the new cosmetic group MECCA brand new store in Sydney. Sitting on the corner of George and Market, the make-up haven has taken out the former Top Shop store, offering three floors of beauty products, a hair salon and a champagne bar. It opened on what is known as Black Friday, November 27, which is tied to the American Thanksgiving holiday.

Mecca CEO and founder Jo Horgan in the new boutique in the former Gowings building in Sydney.
Mecca CEO and founder Jo Horgan in the new boutique in the former Gowings building in Sydney. Credit:Louise Kennerley

The flagship store will take on rival Sephora, which is moving to the former Soul Pattinson chemist site in Pitt Street, reflecting the increasing demand for beauty and cosmetics.

The MECCA lease was negotiated by Alex Alamsyah – partner of Knight Frank Retail – with Megan Wilkins, leasing director of MECCA supported by Jonathan McKenzie, general manager property of Event Hospitality & Entertainment as the landlord.


Mr Alamsyah said MECCA has been the pioneer of the power brands that are opening stores in Sydney CBD, as Australians are not spending money on traditional travel during the pandemic.

“With the COVID-19 restrictions eased followed by the news that the vaccine will be ready soon, the opening of MECCA has started the Sydney CBD shopping hype again. Heaps of people visited MECCA wanting to shop, touch and feel things because they have not been able to do it for so long,” Mr Alamsyah said.

“This trend will be followed by Rolex on the corner of Pitt and Market Streets, which will open by mid December, then Fendi bags on the corner of Elizabeth and Market Streets, which has obtained council approval.”

The next big opening is the Lotte Duty Free on the corner of Pitt and Market Streets, known as 55 Market Street, which will open in May 2021. The lease was negotiated by Mr Alamsyah with Sepideh Vahdat, leasing director of Mirvac which owns the site.

“Sydney CBD needs these power brands to stimulate retail activities back to its heyday. It will be interesting to see Mecca vs Sephora in the battle of the beauty brands in 2021,” Mr Alamsyah said.

Other major leases are said the include Cartier which has opened the Cartier Box at Scentre Group’s Westfield Sydney and is understood to have taken the anchor lease at the new retail site in 388 George Street, owned by Investa and Brookfield.

Other retailers current looking for new sites include Chanel, Harry Winston, Loro Piana, Brunello Cucinelli, Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana.

Meanwhile in Melbourne, Vicinity Centre has unveiled plans to upgrade its co-owned Chadstone shopping centre car park to add 850 new parking spaces.

With works set to begin in February 2021, the first stage of Chadstone’s parking projects will add two new levels of parking, including more than 400 solar-shaded parking bays, on top of the existing David Jones car park.

Vicinity’s chief development officer, Carolyn Viney, said once completed, in Spring 2021, customers will also enjoy undercover, solar-shaded parking on the rooftop, with an 1.6MW solar system (generating enough energy to power more than 340 average Australian homes each year) helping to power the centre and reduce energy consumption.

“Vicinity has invested $73 million in solar across Australia and Chadstone will become the 21st centre in Vicinity’s portfolio to install a renewable energy system, as part of a business commitment to long-term sustainability,” Ms Viney said.

“Already the largest, free car park in Australia, parking is a priority project as part of Chadstone’s $685 million evolution, announced last year. Further staged upgrades will bring the total of new car spaces to more than 1,400.”

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