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Latest News.

Things To Know Before Opening Your First Venue

Westfield Coomera eatery, a small boutique deli with pops of bright colour on a grey brick feature wall.

After decades of planning, the Gold Coast’s next big construction project is about to kick-off – the long-awaited Westfield Coomera Town Centre! The new centre will boast a fresh food marketplace, dining, retail, family, entertainment and lifestyle precinct and is set to open in late 2018.

With the new shopping centre taking shape, those thinking about opening a retail, café, kiosk, fast food franchise or even restaurant may finally have decided to take the plunge and open their dream venue! But if it’s your first time designing and fitting out a store it can be confusing to know where to start – if not a little daunting!

Drawing on years of interior fit out and construction experience in shopping centres across Australia, Unita’s General Manager of Retail, Workplace and Health, Matt Lane, outlines the key steps involved in the fitout and approvals process you should know before starting your project.

Step 1: Concept

This is the time to engage an experienced designer to help get your vision for the store on paper. They will work with you to create a concept that aligns with your brand and business goals and help you deliver great customer and staff experiences. Some companies, like Unita, can offer design services in house. This means you’re provided with an end to end service from conception through to construction and final handover.

While you might think the concept stage is something you can do yourself it’s important to speak to a professional. Not all ideas translate into the best possible results or are permitted due to other regulations.

Step 2: Location

A successful business starts with choosing the right site. You need to have a clear picture of your needs and wants for the space and how much you’re willing to pay. While this stage can be laborious it’s crucial you get it right as a poor location can be impossible for a business to overcome.  Once you’ve chosen, you can often negotiate with the landlord to make a contribution towards your fitout costs and secure a good deal for your business.

Step 3: Design

Once you’ve signed off your concept and location it’s time to proceed with the final fitout design. Working collaboratively with your designer and shopfitting company this is the time to address any concerns or changes and to iron out all of the finer details.

Step 4: Approvals

Once you’ve signed off on your final fitout design the final documentation will be provided to your landlord or Retail Design Manager for comments or approval. If they’re happy with the documents, you’ll be given the go ahead to proceed to fit out stage.

The planning and approval process can sometimes be lengthy so it’s important you have clear expectations of the project timeline. Your team will work with you to develop a realistic schedule and time-frame for the project.

Step 5: Joinery & Steel Manufacturing

Shopping centre projects often have fast turnaround times for delivery. If you’ve already started paying rent for your space you want to make sure you can get in there and open your doors as soon as possible. That’s why having a fitout company or builder that can manufacture bespoke joinery and steel – locally and in-house – can help you go live sooner. Not only are lead times and install dates accelerated, it also means your shopfitter can better own the detail and control quality. Being able to value engineer joinery items – which can often be the highest cost element of a fitout – can also help save you money.

Step 6: Fit out and construction

Once all of the planning and design stages are completed you can finally proceed to fit-out stage! Your shopfitter will take care of all installations, manage all the service providers as well as construct the interior fit out. If all the earlier stages have been thoroughly planned then this process should be seamless and construction will flow easily.

Step 7: Certifications

To ensure your store is open and ready to start serving customers before the final handover date all of the certifications relating to the building regulations must be finalised. Your shopfitter will often manage this for you but it is important to discuss before opening date.

Step 8: Handover

After months of work you will finally be ready for handover! Although every project and client is different, from our experience a typical retail or hospitality venue in a shopping centre would take approximately 10-14 weeks from Step 1 – 7 to complete.

Unita delivers quality hospitality fitouts, restaurant fitouts, bar fitouts, and retail fitouts in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, and beyond. Get in touch to discover how we can bring your venue to life with a bespoke design unique to your needs.

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