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  • Writer's pictureHolly Rickard

Retailers: Get The Most Out Of Working With A Shopping Centre

Updated: May 10, 2022

Your excited about opening your new shop in a busy shopping centre – think of the exposure! Success is on the horizon. Or it will be, if you follow these lessons from an industry expert.

Homewares Store Design
Zebra Finch Westfield Kotara

Start with a Budget

Bottom line, it’s your business, you need to know how much you can spend on the fitout and still make a profit. Otherwise – what’s the point? Make sure you are clear on the budget from the outset, as you may need to include your upper limit as part of your lease negotiation.

In terms of fitout costs – Every tenancy is different, some need shopfronts, some have existing elements that can be reused, which keeps the costs down. A rough guide per m2.; a warm shell would cost $1500/m2, a food premises would be on the higher end $2500/m2. Speak to your designer or builder about a cost estimate based on the tenancy you are considering.

Get it in Writing

If you are a small retailer, your first point of contact might be the leasing agent. You may be negotiating with them, if so they will probably agree to accommodate for your wish list items (that may not be in your lease, or in the guidelines). For clarity sake, please get these agreed to in writing. There is a big team of people involved in delivering a new fitout.

If you are a large retailer, you might have a leasing agent of your own who can negotiate terms on your behalf. Usually these include contribution of fitout associated costs, rent free periods, capping lessor works fees, or keeping elements of existing fitout that work with the new fitout.

Once you sign the lease, you will be dealing with a new set of people, and they won’t necessarily be privy to the conversations you had with the leasing agent. This will make it easier for the whole team going forward. Remember, the shopping centre wants you to succeed!

Ready your A-Team

Upon signing your lease, the shopping centre will provide you with a welcome pack, including a schedule of dates, guidelines, contacts and checklists. It’s important that you are prepared and have your team ready so you can hit these deadlines and start trading asap. You want to be trading ideally before you are paying rent. Check with your prospective team about the program before you agree to hire them, and or sign the lease.

These professionals may include: Interior Designer, Graphic Designer, Shopfitter, Private Certifier, Structural Engineer. The shopfitter will need to attend site inductions and provide the correct insurances, so it’s worth choosing one with experience.

Balancing Act

A key player in your tenancy delivery team will be the Retail Design Manager. They are there to help you succeed, stand apart from the other stores, and look great. Remember RDM’s are busy, usually in charge of all the design projects and fitouts for several major shopping centres... Making sure you are on the same page from day one will save time in the long run.

Sometimes medium to large retailers can request that one RDM handles all of their tenancy deliveries nation wide. This gives the retailer some leeway in terms of brand specific requirements for their fitout, rather than modifying design elements to suit each individual shopping centres requirement.

Your designer should have a good relationship with the RDM and work as the in-between for the client and the shopping centre to achieve the best outcome. Keeping within the fitout guidelines, while keeping costs down… everyone is happy.

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