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Shopping centre owner Mirvac targets online retailers
Sue Mitchell – Senior reporter – May 26, 2021
Property giant Mirvac has taken an equity stake in a fashion tech start-up and is offering flexible rents and short leases to lure online retailers into its shopping centres.
As part of a strategy to embrace ‘new retail’, Mirvac has developed two new formats, dubbed WeShow and Glasshouse, which enable pure-play and omni-channel retailers to set up shop in shopping centres on a short term basis and expose their brands to new audiences.
The strategy is aimed at refreshing the mix in Mirvac’s shopping malls, responding to changing consumer shopping habits, and providing ‘retail as a service’ – removing barriers to entry to bricks and mortar stores and offering flexible solutions for online retailers.
Mirvac Ventures has also acquired a small equity stake in social commerce start-up Mys Tyler as part of a $1 million seed funding round. Mys Tyler is an online site which uses algorithms and customer data to match shoppers with a team of contributors who help them shop for their shape, size and style, recommending clothes from many existing tenants in Mirvac malls.
Mirvac’s general manager retail, Kelly Miller, said the new strategy was not about filling empty spaces in shopping centres, and Mirvac had no plans to emulate US property giant Simon Property Group by buying up struggling retail brands.
“Prior to COVID we had been working on a strategy where we planned to embrace all forms of retail whether bricks and mortar, omni-channel operators or pure play operators … to respond to different audience needs,” Ms Miller told The Australian Financial Review.
“COVID fast-tracked all of that very rapidly – we had the opportunity to start to co-create with a number of people,” Ms Miller said.
“This is about new retail creating new opportunities for new revenue streams.”
For example, online fashion retailer Billy J took a three-year lease on a store in Mirvac’s Kawana mall in Queensland after testing a temporary pop-up store. Sales rose almost 30 per cent in the first six months as it reached new customers.
Aisha Hillary-Morgan from Hills & West at the online retailer’s pop-up store in Mirvac’s East Village mall.
Online accessories retailer Hills & West opened a temporary store under Mirvac’s “WeShow” concept in East Village shopping centre in Sydney. The pop-up store exposed the brand to more than 13,000 new customers and sales, in the three months ending February, rose 300 per cent.
“The opportunity with WeShow is to constantly bring in new talent so they can trial new audiences and grow their business,” Ms Miller said.
Online retailers do not have the resources or expertise to set up stores and negotiate leases, so Mirvac has established modular store fit-outs complete with lighting, floors, adjustable shelving and point of sale systems.