That focus on experience helped Chadstone become Australia’s most profitable shopping centre in 2019, and it’s at the heart of the centre’s next phase of development – a nine-storey office building and expanded dining and entertaining precinct.
Here, we ask Whitehead about the role of the shopping centre in the age of e-commerce and what retail trends he’s got his eye on.
Inside Retail: What have been the biggest changes at Chadstone over the past 60 years?
Michael Whitehead: In 1960, when Chadstone first opened its doors, 7500 people flooded in to get their first glimpse of this new and exciting suburban shopping centre. From this moment, it was obvious that Chadstone was setting the benchmark for first-to-market retail experiences with retailers surrounding the 3UZ radio station and Australia’s first ever donut shop.
Chadstone has celebrated so many key moments over the decades, including the 2016 $660 million Stage 40 Development and more recently the launch of our luxury Hotel Chadstone in 2019.
Each of these milestones has continued to solidify Chadstone as a world-class retail destination and has created the benchmark for Australia’s premium shopping experience with more than 500 retailers, an unrivalled range of designer boutiques, more than 30 luxury brands and more than 95 fresh food and dining options.
IR: What are some things that have stayed the same?
MW: Melburnians have a long-standing love affair with the centre. This milestone is about celebrating everyone who has made The Fashion Capital the place it is today. The success of Chadstone is a testament to the hard work, constant support, dedicated patronage of our local community, and relentless efforts that go into the operation of our retailers and the centre every day.
To mark this monumental milestone, Chadstone’s 60 years, we are asking visitors to Step Back in Time with us and share their favourite memories and photographs at The Fashion Capital over the last six decades. Submissions can be made via the website or using the hashtag #MyChadstoneMemories. These memories will feature alongside archives in our digital exhibition that will come to life this September.
Whether it was the purchase of a school formal dress, a first date at Hoyts Cinemas, choosing the perfect piece of jewellery for a milestone event, or fond memories of Sundays spent shopping with grandparents, we want to hear about how Chadstone has been a part of the lives of Melburnians.
IR: In your opinion, what’s the role of a shopping centre now, given the rise of online shopping?
MW: We’ve seen customer visitation return following the pandemic which illustrates that physical retail remains an important part of our community and social experience, that online cannot fully replace. We know physical stores will remain the dominant sales channel and bricks-and-mortar has an enduring role as part of any successful omnichannel strategy.
Now more than ever, we know customers are looking for bespoke experiences to create memories with family and friends. At Chadstone, we continue to deliver memorable and first-to-market retail experiences for visitors to enjoy.
IR: Are there any new retail or consumer trends that you’ve got your eye on at the moment?
MW: With international travel currently on hold and many Australians increasing their savings pots over the past year, we’ve seen a strong customer desire to invest in luxury items and indulge in unique experiences.
Anecdotally, throughout the pandemic, luxury retailers have created new relationships with Australian customers who traditionally make purchases overseas and have tapped into the desire of our customers to pamper themselves, to indulge in private, personal and imitate luxury goods and experiences.
At Chadstone, we continue to deliver memorable and first-to-market retail experiences for visitors to enjoy with the largest luxury offering in Australia under the one roof. We welcomed Versace and Tory Burch earlier this year and look forward to the debut of Breitling and the Ralph Lauren Collection Boutique opening later this year.
As leaders in luxury retail, we continue to broaden our retail offering with the arrival of premium guest services including valet parking, personal styling, hands-free shopping and a tailored butler service for those customers looking to elevate their personalised shopping experience.
IR: What do you think the biggest growth drivers will be for Chadstone over the next few years?
MW: Chadstone continues to evolve, as it has for more than six decades, so it’s fitting that as we celebrate Chadstone’s 60-year milestone, we are really pleased to be able to share details on our next project, One Middle Road.
Nine storeys of energy efficient, state-of-the-art, campus-style office space, One Middle Road also incorporates a rooftop sky garden which will benefit the people who come to work at this landmark building – and is the first of its kind for workers at Chadstone.
One Middle Road has been designed with convenience as a priority. Workplaces are changing and we are creating a space with current and future employment trends in mind. The new office tower will offer 20,000sqm of flexible working space, state-of-the-art childcare facilities, 560 dedicated car spaces, direct access to The Fashion Capital and a sustainably focused design.
The project will also supplement plans to deliver new fresh food and wellness precincts at Chadstone and more dining and entertainment destinations.