Big brands bring big wins for Auckland - expert

Swedish retailer H&M opens its first New Zealand store on Saturday (Getty)
Swedish retailer H&M opens its first New Zealand store on Saturday (Getty)

As Auckland grows, a marketing expert says we should expect to see more of the world's biggest brands set up shop in the city - and hopefully, one day, an Ikea.

Though it might make Auckland slightly less unique, Auckland University senior marketing lecturer Mike Lee says the influx is a win-win for locals.

Swedish retailer H&M opens its first New Zealand store on Saturday, following in the footsteps of UK-based TopShop.

Spanish fashion house Zara follows next week, and Tiffany's and Chanel are not far away.

Mr Mike Lee says they won't take market share away from local shops - in fact, they might attract more shoppers into the malls, benefitting everyone.

Besides, if people really wanted clothes from H&M they are probably already getting them.

"I know people that buy from H&M and just get it shipped over because it works out cheaper for them and the variety is often greater," Mr Lee told Paul Henry on Friday.

"The genie's already out of the bottle - it's a globalised economy, we're all connected already."

There are some valid arguments against letting multinational giants set up shop. Mr Lee says most of their profits will probably go offshore, and there are concerns about labour standards in some companies' supply chains, which sometimes end in rickety, crumbling factories in countries like Bangladesh.

But they can also bring benefits, including jobs and improving New Zealand's image on the world stage.

"It shows that New Zealand is starting to have that same sort of ecosystem as the rest of the world," says Mr Lee. "I still find it outrageous that we're one of the only most liveable cities without an Ikea."

Ikea is yet to bring its iconic furniture to this part of the world. Mr Lee says at the rate Auckland is growing, it's inevitable the Swedish retailer will one day open its doors here.

"Companies are already importing stuff from Ikea and charging a ridiculous markup on it. There are already people profiting from this, so why not have a physical presence?"

His advice to local retailers is to keep an eye on what the multinationals do, and more importantly, what they don't.

"It's all about positioning - what can they do different, or what value can they add that's different from what these bigger brands are doing?"


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