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Kmart on the hunt for Invercargill premises


Kmart-on-the-huntInvercargill's retailers and shoppers could receive a boost if big box Australian retailer Kmart is able to find a suitable premises in the city.

The retailer remains on the hunt for a store location and a company spokesperson said an announcement would be made if a location had been finalised.

"We are always looking for new locations to bring people our everyday low prices, and that includes Invercargill."

First Retail Group managing director Chris Wilkinson said strong leadership was needed from the Invercargill City Council and the business industry. 

"There has to be a very, very clear retail strategy that provides some plan and some guidance for these big businesses." 

Traditionally, retailers were nervous about big box retailers, Wilkinson said.

However, with online shopping and shoppers travelling more, it had become apparent that retail competition was coming from outside the region. 

The establishment of the department store has been long-awaited by Invercargill shoppers, who must travel to Dunedin to get their fix. 

In April, Marketview head of solutions Michael Stechman said in 2015 the amount spent by Invercargill people in the North Island was up 53.5 per cent from 2014.

The results showed Invercargill's population were prepared to travel and spend elsewhere, which included Dunedin and Queenstown. 

Wilkinson said Kmart had wide-ranging success after a new store opened in Richmond, in Nelson, in 2013. 

The same could happen in Invercargill, and the spending could flow to other businesses, Wilkinson said. 

"When people's wallets open, we would expect them to stay open. [Kmart] would actually bring people in to town and get them spending, and keep them spending in other stores as well." 

Kmart does not own land in Invercargill.  

The company was expanding in New Zealand and, according to industry website Inside Retail NZ, it planned to open two or three new stores a year in New Zealand up until 2020.

Invercargill residents have long begged for a store in the city, even starting several Facebook pages to gather support. 

Facebook page "Bring K Mart & Wendys to Invercargill....Please!!" has more than 700 members. The page says Invercargill needs Kmart and other wonderful businesses in Invercargill.

The store would be "a relief" for consumers and help the surrounding area's economy, the page says. 

Facebook page "Invercargill needs a Kmart" has nearly 400 members. The page says Invercargill needs a Kmart because the store had reasonably priced clothes and gadgets Invercargill retail outlets lacked.

The store could take a space on Esk St, the page says. 

Additionally, Kmart has confirmed an online store for New Zealand shoppers is in the pipeline.