Coco Republic’s co-owner Anthony Spon-Smith talks to MiNDFOOD about entering the New Zealand market.
How long have you been looking at launching in the NZ market?
We have had our eyes on New Zealand for quite some time, and over the past three years we’ve flown back and forth whenever a site opportunity presented itself. But none of them seemed quite right until the relaunch of Westfield Newmarket. Shopping centre company Scentre Group was committed to bringing their benchmark Australian centre concept – such as you see in Bondi Junction and the Sydney CBD – to Auckland, and off the back of our success at Chadstone Shopping Centre in Melbourne, we knew this was the right move for us.
How does the NZ marketplace compare to the Australian marketplace?
New Zealand has an abundance of high-end retailers and budget-conscious options – but the middle market is where there is a gap. We believe this is why we have experienced such interest and excitement since announcing our Newmarket store. The reception to our brand and product offering has been incredible. As a market, New Zealand has an aesthetic quite similar to Australia. Indoor-outdoor living is prevalent; and customers value quality and comfort and have a beautiful appreciation for style in their homes.
You are covering the country fairly quickly with your design services in both Queenstown and Christchurch. Has this been difficult to set up?
Design is in Coco Republic’s DNA – we are not just a furniture retailer and it was important to us to offer the same level of design services in New Zealand as we do in Australia. Even prior to launch, we had a high level of interest from southern cities – where there are some exquisite homes. In October, several appointments had already been made with our interior designers in Queenstown and Christchurch – so we launched set days that customers could book in with us. Our operations allow us to service the entire country and still deliver on our exceptional level of service.
What can a shopper in NZ expect with the Coco Republic interior design service?
Our process is really simple, and we allow the client to be as hands on or off as they want to be. Clients are invited to meet their designer in store, which is then followed by an in-home visit. We’ll discuss lifestyle, needs and wants to get an understanding of how we can transform the required spaces. Our designers will select furniture and homewares to bring the creative vision to life, and can assist with renovation projects and/or fixtures and finishes if that’s within the client brief. It’s then time for the client to visualise their new interiors and/or outdoor spaces – so we will invite them back into the showroom to present our ideas with a mood board, floor plan and samples. For more extensive projects, we may present drawings, renders or detailed schedules. We can make revisions with the client if needed, and then proceed with the order. Installation day is when it all comes together. Our designer will project manage the installation with our professional delivery team and style the little finishing touches. The end result is one that the client can enjoy for years to come.
Coco Republic has such a wide range of different looks. Does the Auckland store have both indoor and outdoor furniture, and everything the Sydney store has?
Our Auckland showroom features a carefully curated collection of our new and most popular indoor and outdoor lines. It was important to us that when launching in New Zealand, we had a site with the floor space to really offer a substantial range – and we feel that we’ve achieved this perfectly at Westfield Newmarket. Our collection reflects modern elegance with a nod to contemporary coastal design, and we’ve handpicked pieces to showcase that we believe will resonate with the aesthetic and lifestyle within New Zealand homes. A large proportion of our floor pieces are also stocked lines – which means our New Zealand customers can have them in their homes in as a little as four weeks.
You’ve also launched into the competitive US market. Can you tell us about that?
It’s been really exciting to enter the US market with my designs. In April 2019 we opened a shop-in-shop with our outdoor collection within one of California’s leading design retailers, HD Buttercup. In just a few weeks over two-thirds of the collection had sold out, and we have since had multiple repeat orders. The collection continues to grow into one of the top performers at HD Buttercup in multiple stores across the state. The outdoor collection takes design cues from the California coastline, paired with inspiration from contemporary Italian design – so it’s no surprise that the styles resonate with Californians. We have also had our first order with a major national US retailer for several indoor and outdoor lines. It is truly wonderful to see my designs doing so well in not only the US, but locally in Australia and New Zealand too.
Can the NZ market expect the Coco Republic Design School?
While we don’t currently have plans to operate on-campus courses in Auckland, we do offer online courses that can be completed anywhere in the world. Over the last few years, we’ve also had several students fly over from New Zealand to study at our Sydney campus. We offer one- to three- day masterclasses and five-and-a-half day accelerator courses that are perfect for students who have the option to travel.