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Sustainability in Retail Design

Guest Article | Martin Skinner - Managing Director, Tailor Inc

Tailor Inc has over 20 years' experience as a retail designer for leading brands in New Zealand and overseas, and is known for successfully leading retail strategy and project delivery while managing both landlord and tenant design processes. Martin takes pride in developing the skills of his team at Tailor and has a hands-on approach to leading and managing project teams - we are so delighted you agreed to write a piece on sustainability and retail design.

We regard Martin and his team great friends of the RX Group family and think they deliver exceptional work and outcomes for retailers.


It's encouraging to see the retail sector and landlords embracing sustainability and adaptive reuse in their strategies. This approach not only benefits the environment but also proves economically advantageous.

Here are a few key points and examples:

Cooperative Efforts

Landlords and retailers are working together more closely to address the risks associated with opening new stores and securing long-term leases. This collaborative approach benefits both parties.

Adaptive Reuse

Retailers are increasingly using existing fitouts and repurposing elements like ceilings, lighting, and shopfronts. This approach is environmentally friendly and contributes to sustainability by reducing waste and the consumption of new building materials.

Building Code Compliance

While adaptive reuse is encouraged, compliance with building codes, especially regarding structural, seismic, and fire-related aspects, often requires modifications and strengthening. Designers are engaged early to assess the site's feasibility and make necessary changes to the fitout design.

Cost Savings

Reusing existing fitouts can lead to significant cost savings, ranging from 20% to 50% off the cost of new fitout costs. This is advantageous for both landlords and retailers.

Reduced Fitout Period

Reusing existing elements can also reduce the time required for fitout, leading to quicker store openings.


Prioritising reuse aligns with sustainability principles by reducing waste sent to landfills and lowering the embodied carbon associated with new building materials.

Successful Examples

Flo and Frankie, along with other retailers, have successfully embraced this approach, creating unique and visually appealing store interiors while working with existing elements.

Landlord Support

Some landlords, like Precinct Properties in the case of Willis Lane in Wellington, are actively supporting F&B operators by providing a significant portion of the fitouts, making it easier for businesses to move in and launch.

Transition to Electric

Retail developments are increasingly moving away from gas and adopting fully electric-powered systems, relying on clean and renewable energy sources. This transition aligns with sustainability goals and reduces carbon emissions.

Green Building Certification

Projects like Mānawa Bay in Auckland are pursuing green building certifications (e.g., 5 Green Star) to emphasise their commitment to sustainability.

These developments demonstrate the New Zealand retail sector's evolving focus on sustainability, cost-effectiveness, and collaboration to address the challenges it faces in 2023. This approach benefits not only businesses but also the environment and the communities in which these retail developments operate.

A good place to start is by speaking with an experienced retail designer, and the team at Tailor Inc is happy to provide advisory services to help ensure your project is a success.

Go well out there!


Martin Skinner is Managing Director of Tailor Inc, a retail strategy, design and project management company that works with many retail formats, retail brands and on large retail development projects across New Zealand.


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