Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Brand Depot owner Canberra Airport

Brand Depot owner Canberra Airport will mount a fresh legal challenge next month against Direct Factory Outlet through the ACT Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

As thousands of shoppers attended DFO's grand opening in Fyshwick yesterday lawyers were revisiting the airport's arguments that DFO exceeds its retailing limit.

Retrospective legislation introduced by former ACT Planning Minister Simon Corbell to prevent commercial competitors from challenging planning approvals through the AAT blocked the airport's previous attempt to stop DFO's opening.

But airport managing director Stephen Byron said yesterday DFO's opening presented the opportunity to bring the legal fight to a head.

''The planning law says you cannot have more than 3000sqm of retail shops on the site. That is the issue we think is illegal and we want the court to determine that through the AAT.''
DFO declined to comment on the legal row. Mr Byron said DFO would be required to adhere to the Territory Plan and confine its trading to bulky goods.
''Thus, the retail shops that are in breach of the 3000sqm limit would be required to be replaced by DFO with complying bulky goods users.''

DFO's national property manager Jean Smith estimated 20,000 customers attended yesterday, well up from the expected 15,000 and a bigger crowd was expected today.
A handful of customers at Brand Depot were outnumbered by the shops.
Mr Byron said if the airport lost its challenge in the AAT and in the Supreme Court, which is due to hear the case early next year, Brand Depot would not close.

''The truth is you would only close Brand Depot if it wasn't trading well and if tenants weren't there.

''We have tenants and strong tenant interest. The question of discounting the rent is a question for another year. We're in good shape.''

DFO retailers had no trouble attracting customers yesterday but struggled with a lack of staff, calling in managers from sister stores in Canberra and Melbourne.
Chris Nolan owns two fashion stores in the new DFO and two each in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. He will open two in Cairns's new DFO in November.

He was approached by rival outlets every week to open in other outlets and was twice approached by Canberra's Brand Depot.

''They were prepared to offer whatever it took to get me in. It was too late, I was already committed to DFO.''

He is looking for eight staff in Canberra.

Mr Nolan buys from manufacturers in China and excess stock from suppliers in Australia. His stock is six weeks older than what's offered in mainstream stores, but nearly 50 per cent cheaper.

The first customer through the doors, Boka Jovic of Queanbeyan, said she was looking for a job for her daughter, and for bargains.

A crowd gathered at 8.30am and swept through the main doors at 9.50am, while cars continued queuing along the entrance routes well into the morning.

Mr Byron said Brand Depot would suffer for six weeks, but was confident in knowing its market.
''Our customer base is mums, it's people doing it tough in Gungahlin and Tuggeranong.
''People who shop at DFO are the people who shop at the Canberra Centre and buy good brands and for a while they will get some of that cheaper.''