Souvlaki shops and travel agencies have been replaced by some of the biggest global names in luxury fashion, changing the face of Edward Street forever and cementing Brisbane as a bona-fide upmarket shopping destination.
But the retail gold rush could be over within just a year as space left on the city’s glamour strip starts to dry up.
Following hot on the heels of Gucci, the street’s latest international flagship boutique, Montblanc has just moved in next to Hermès with an eight-year lease for 127sq m of space – a deal managing director Leon Mervis said the business was lucky to secure.
“We wanted to be here on Edward Street but it is getting so competitive now,” Mr Mervis said.
“There is a good mix of luxury brand tenants on the strip already and more are set to move in.
“But I think it will be difficult to find space here for the kind of flagship store we are opening very soon.”
Montblanc had previously held a much smaller tenancy on the street, closer to Central Station and Louis Vuitton, the lynchpin of the luxury strip, according to Colliers International Retail Leasing Manager Teri Lay.
But Ms Lay, who negotiated the Montblanc move, said since Louis Vuitton opened as part of Queens Plaza in 2005, big-name brands had come to realise tenancies closer to Elizabeth Street offered more desirable foot traffic.
And because top-shelf shops tended to cluster, Ms Lay said it was unsurprising the strip subsequently developed despite initial resistance.
“I literally had to push someone across Elizabeth Street so they could see the potential – there was almost an invisible barrier once you got there, but we’ve pushed through that now,” she said.
“Canturi and Longchamp have recently signed long-term leases for space in the Edward Street end of Tattersall’s Arcade and there is more to come.
“The area is now Brisbane’s equivalent to the Paris end of Collins Street in Melbourne – there’s a critical mass [of luxury retail] which is very attractive – but it is also very tightly held.
“Now that everyone’s in, I expect we’ll soon see a pause in the market for another five years until fresh tenancies become available.”
Yet a spokesman for the owners of the corner building now home to Montblanc and Hermes said there was still some growth to be expected.
“Further announcements are imminent as Edward Street establishes itself as the preferred location for premium brands in Queensland,” General Manager of Investments for ARIA Property Group Michael Zaicek said.
Ms Lay said the next street likely to boom was Elizabeth Street, where the newly refurbished Hilton Hotel and Wintergarden Mall stood as lucrative hooks to potential retailers.
“I don’t expect we’ll see the upper end of Edward Street accommodate growth in the luxury market – it’s uphill, and attracts the wrong foot-traffic,” she said.
“But Elizabeth Street down to Albert Street, which connects back to the Queen Street Mall, there is huge potential.”