ICG Blog

The 2018 retail recap

[fa icon="calendar"] 11/12/2018 10:30:00 AM / by ICG


ICG’s editorial team from NZ Retail and The Register, Sarah Dunn and Courtney Devereux, share some insights from the last 12 months.


Compared with last year’s barrage of launches from serious international retail players like H&M and Zara, 2018 was steady. When Amazon launched in Australia in December 2017, first-day sales were higher than any other launch day in the company’s history, but a year on, it’s clear the American juggernaut hasn’t yet impacted on Kiwi retailers in the way many feared it might. In fact, its launch spurred a wave of investment and improvements that’s now left many Kiwi retailers looking fighting fit.

A number of international retailers followed in the footsteps of 2017’s Topshop by packing up and leaving the New Zealand market this year. Among them were footwear retailer Dune London, Esprit, Avon, and D2C mattress ecommerce outfit Koala. That’s not to say global retailers aren’t here to stay: skilled operators like H&M, Krispy Kreme, Kmart, Mecca and Chemist Warehouse have rapidly expanded their footprint in New Zealand over the last 12 months.

Trendwise, buy-now-pay-later services such as Afterpay continue to grow in popularity, and delivery-based retail offerings like subscription boxes and meal kits are starting to hit the mainstream. Meta-trends like experiential retail, environmental responsibility and customer-centricity have meant the pressure for local businesses to evolve remains strong.

  • Sarah Dunn, editor and associate publisher of NZ Retail and The Register.



Retail industry trend of 2018

Winner: Abandoning single-use plastics

Many of New Zealand’s biggest retailers have been working hard to meet our country’s ‘clean green image’ by abolishing single-use plastics from their stores. The Government’s move to ban all plastic bags by 2019 only spurred on existing industry action by those such as Countdown, Pak’n Save, Farro Fresh and Mitre 10.

Runner up: Living wage movements


Most hyped arrival

Winner: Krispy Kreme

The opening night of the Olympics came second only to the opening night of New Zealand’s first Krispy Kreme. Its Auckland flagship in Manukau saw lines around the corner for weeks following the grand opening, as many shoppers put aside time to welcome the new dessert house to our shores. Now available in BP petrol stations and on Uber Eats, the American doughnut chain has quickly become a staple.

Runner up: Amazon Australia


Saddest step-down

Winner: Jon Macdonald – Trade Me

After over a decade Jon Macdonald certainly made his mark, making Trade Me one of New Zealand’s trusted marketplaces. The business had many firsts with Macdonald, from buy-now pay later systems, buyer protection and even a move to the living wage. With a replacement expected in December of 2018, it is certain the business will not feel the same without Macdonald at its helm.

Runner up: Cecilia and James Robinson, former co-CEOs at My Food Bag. They transitioned into governance roles in April.


Most natural merger

Winner: Pumpkin Patch x Ezibuy

While we won’t know for some time how this merger will work out, it certainly makes intuitive sense. After Ezibuy owner Alceon Group purchased Pumpkin Patch’s assets from Australian retail Catch Group in late October, it lost no time in relaunching the heritage Kiwi brand through its digital and physical Ezibuy channels. With its roots in catalogues and mid-market family apparel, we think Ezibuy is a great match for Pumpkin Patch – could this troubled brand have finally found its home?

Runner up: Barkers x Max Fashions


Most futuristic premises

Winner: Tesla

The convenience and scale of online retailers like Amazon and Book Depository means that offering a fantastic in-store experience is key to keeping local bricks and mortar retailers afloat in challenging times. Nothing says futuristic like electric cars, and Tesla’s opening of its sleek, modern showroom in downtown Auckland throws us forward a couple of hundred years. Its showroom-style dealership is quickly becoming the norm for car yards aiming to trade size for accessibility in central locations. 

Runner up: Xiaomi’s Mi store at Sylvia Park.


Strongest rumour of a New Zealand launch:

Winner: Ikea

For some years now, there have been whispers of an Ikea finally opening on our shores. In 2018, these whispers intensified into speculation about everything from expected logistical structure and even guesses about where the flagship will be located. Ikea already has strong brand awareness in New Zealand, and international stories about the large stores and the brand’s many products have only fuelled Kiwi shoppers’ desire for the Swedish chain. However, Ikea is yet to confirm or deny any such launch, and retail experts agree that New Zealand’s geographic make-up and location make it less than convenient for Ikea.

Runner up: Costco

Best-received launch by an Australian brand:

Winner: Chemist Warehouse

In late 2017, Australian brand Chemist Warehouse sailed to our shores, adding its first Auckland flagship at Mt Albert to its 400 other stores internationally. The store's website is owned and operated by the EPharmacy group, but the company itself is family-owned. It brought with it its unbeatable low prices, and Kiwis’ love of a bargain meant it was welcomed with open arms. Just six months after Chemist Warehouse opened its Mt Albert store, a second outlet in Botany opened to the public in April, followed by two further stores to round out the year. Azman Haroon, pharmacist and director of Chemist Warehouse New Zealand, says the launch into the New Zealand market has exceeded expectations.  

Runner up: Thankyou. This personal care supplier encouraged its consumers to directly lobby supermarkets to stock its products using social media marketing campaigns.


Sarah Dunn and Courtney Devereux, deputy editor of NZ Retail and The Register

Written by ICG

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