Australian Embassy
The Philippines

SP140908 - Australian Retailers Association bid to host APRCE 2017

Speech by Ambassador Bill Tweddell
Australian Retailers Association’s bid to host the
18th Asia-Pacific Retailers Convention and Exhibition (APRCE 2017)
8 September 2014

I would like to thank Mr Russell Zimmerman, Executive Director, Australian Retailers Association (ARA), for extending this opportunity to me to support the bid from the ARA to host the 18th Asia-Pacific Retailers Convention and Exhibition (APRCE) 2017.

I would also like to take this opportunity to welcome all representatives from the Federation of Asia-Pacific Retailers Associations (FAPRA) here today at this breakfast and thank you for your support.

Doing business in Australia is easy. With one of the most transparent and well-regulated business environments in the world, Australia’s political stability and regulatory framework provide investors with confidence and security. For six years in a row, Australia has ranked third on the Index of Economic Freedom.

The country has a sophisticated financial sector that offers access to the world’s third largest pool of investment funds, and one of the region’s largest pools of bank assets. More than 18,000 foreign companies are registered in Australia, including 18 of the Top 20 FT Global 500 companies and eight of the Top 10 Fortune 100.

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is the peak body representing retail in Australia, and they advocate and drive continuous change to ensure retailers are adapting to the ever-evolving landscape in Australia’s A$ 265 billion industry.

Melbourne is well known for its thriving central business district, exciting shopping precincts and world class cafés and restaurants. More than 840,000 people visit the city of Melbourne every day. They journey along the streets and malls, explore the famous laneways and arcades, and indulge in some of the best shopping and dining experiences anywhere in Australia.
The retail and hospitality sectors are crucial to the City of Melbourne, and add to the character and vibrancy of the city and to the rapidly growing night time economy. Together, these sectors contribute around A$ 8.7 billion to the city economy (10 per cent of the total city economy) and employ more than 60,000 people. And the potential for further growth is significant.

Over the past few years, we have seen the entry of a number of major international retailers into the city, adding to its diverse retail mix, which includes everything from Australia’s leading department stores to cutting-edge local designers and many unique small businesses. At the same time, we have also seen the continuing evolution of Melbourne’s renowned hospitality industry to offer an unparalleled range of eating options, from fine dining through to cheap eats. Importantly, Melbourne’s retail and hospitality industries are now joining forces to offer locals and visitors ever more innovative and compelling shopping, dining and cultural experiences.

A walk through Melbourne reveals world-class shopping, culinary delights, luxury hotels and hidden surprises that delight the millions of people who flock to the city each year.

Melbourne’s innovative businesses offer visitors, workers and residents everything they are looking for, and then unexpected treats as well. Discoveries such as pop-up fashion down a hidden laneway, a late-night crêpe on bustling Degraves Street, a rooftop cocktail amidst the city lights or a gleaming underground restaurant tucked deep in a basement, have all become part of what Melbourne is known for.

As well as its eclectic side, Melbourne also showcases the world’s most prestigious brands and exclusive labels, high-end and boutique hotels, world-class restaurants, cutting edge cafés, and festivals and events for all. Green spaces, parks and stately public institutions also complement the dynamic, vibrant culture and character that make Melbourne so well-loved.

As Melbourne has evolved, it has also experienced astounding growth. In 2012, Melbourne achieved its highest recorded number of 1.7 million international visitors and 4.5 million domestic overnight visitors. The city now has more than 844,000 daily users including 105,000 residents, 387,000 workers and 59,000 students, and it continues to grow at a rapid rate. The challenge now is to build on this growth and on Melbourne’s positioning as a globally sought after destination. I believe that hosting the 2017 Convention and Exhibition in Melbourne will help achieve this challenge.

Shopping remains the top reason for local, interstate and international visitors coming to the city. Melbourne is becoming a 24-hour city where people come for entertainment, hospitality and time out with friends and relatives.

Melbourne continues to grow. The annual percentage growth and forecasts for the city of Melbourne indicate more than 40 per cent growth to the city’s daily population with 1.26 million people by 2030. The City of Melbourne’s A$ 25.6 million re-development of Swanston Street (one of the main streets in Melbourne) has attracted more people than ever before to businesses along the city’s spine. The Emporium Melbourne which opened in early 2014 is one of the largest retail developments in the world. It has introduced more than 200 retail and hospitality businesses, some new to Australia, as well as re-opening the city centre thoroughfare from the Bourke Street Mall through to Melbourne Central.

The City of Melbourne (Council) and the Victorian Government committed in October 2013 to preserve and renew the iconic Queen Victoria Market. This is a long-term project and presents a once in a century opportunity to create one of the world’s greatest market precincts.

The Victorian Government also continues to work to ensure that Melbourne and Victoria are the investment destinations of choice for domestic and international retailers through international investment and business engagement strategies.

The Victorian Government, through its network of overseas and domestic business offices, readily assists local retailers to expand into overseas markets and eagerly engages with overseas retailers looking to enter the Australian market. The office supports retail companies, whether investing for the first time or re-investing in Victoria, through the provision of information, site location services and potentially financial assistance.

To continue building on the city’s success, it is crucial that Melbourne businesses stay informed about global and future trends. The goal now is to balance Melbourne’s retail and hospitality strategy marketing its luxury offer to affluent visitors from emerging destinations, alongside new techniques to retain the loyalty of visitors from recession-hit mature economies, and a local market that has reduced its discretionary spend. Other challenges include the rise in internet-connected consumer electronic devices. Smartphones and tablets are ubiquitous and retail infrastructure needs to be technologically equipped to deal with this online expansion. Businesses need to engage consumers through all five senses, turning shopping into a ‘theatre’ style experience and enhancing real-world socialising through online social networks. Physical retail spaces need to become more intuitive and responsive through learning from customers’ online shopping habits. Shoppers want transparency of the sourcing and supply chain, while also demanding ethically sound products and produce at value prices.

The competition of the major shopping centres in the suburbs continues to offer an alternative to Melbourne central city consumers; however, the city’s cultural offer of music, galleries, restaurants and attractions provides a point of difference for city businesses, as well as attracting different types and demographics of customers.

City retail and hospitality businesses increasingly have the opportunity to optimise business around the clock. Melbourne has evolved into a late night destination, with diners and shoppers willing to spend well into the night. In February 2013, Melbourne hosted its first ever White Night event. Held on a Saturday night from 7pm, White Night attracted 300,000 people to the central city, with some dining venues and stores opening well beyond midnight to capitalise on late night festival goers’ spending.

The Australian Government is confident that should the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) succeed with its bid to host the 2017 Convention in Melbourne that the Convention and Exhibition will be a resounding success.

I would like to thank Mr Russell Zimmerman, Executive Director, ARA, for leading the bid to host the 2017 Convention and Exhibition and wish him the best of luck with his presentation later this afternoon.

On behalf of the Australian Government, we look forward, we hope, to welcoming you all to Melbourne in 2017.