Sentinel CEO Warren Ebert talks the future of Caneland shopping centre

December 13, 2022

Sentinel CEO Warren Ebert officially took control of Mackay’s retail icon last week and he has big plans for a makeover. Here’s what’s coming.

A travelator, solar energy and a concerted push for a sporting goods store are just some of the many changes coming to Caneland following Sentinel Property Group’s $280m takeover.

Sentinel CEO Warren Ebert revealed his hopes for the 65,964 sqm retail mecca before a trip back to Mackay this week and said he was open to public feedback.

“We want to make our centre as user friendly as possible for as many people as possible,” he said.

Mr Ebert said a $1m travelator would “definitely” be installed by the end of 2023, positioned near the JB Hi-Fi store.

“We are putting in a travelator,” he said.

“It is well down the track, we have had it priced up and we have got engineers looking at it.”

The company will also install 4000 solar panels, expected to save $1.5m on power bills in the first year alone.

On retail, Mr Ebert said he was in discussions with “at least a dozen” potential tenants, including the popular MECCA fashion brand.

“We have spoken to them (MECCA) and that is certainly one of the tenants that we are looking to get,” he said.

Sentinel owns the Casuarina Square shopping centre in Darwin, which already hosts MECCA.

“With Casuarina Square, you have to supply that really out of Adelaide, so it is much more difficult,” he said.

“Where with Mackay, you are a run up the coast.

“Sydney, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Rockhampton, you have supply chains.

“So my view was, if they would go to Casuarina, then why the hell wouldn’t they go to Mackay?”

Mr Ebert said more family entertainment, including a sports bar, would be a core focus.

“What we want is a bigger variety of things so when people come, they can do everything there,” he said.

One offering that is not coming is a cinema.

“You can’t make it work,” he said, highlighting construction costs and competition from streaming services like Netflix as key challenges for new theatres.

“Cinemas still haven’t gotten over the pain of Covid lockdowns.”

Mr Ebert also revealed he was in discussions with a sporting goods retailer to move in.

“One of the areas that Caneland is very short on is a sports store,” he said.

“That is something that it really needs, but also a good one, not just a pretend one.

“Now we are talking with a very good operator on that.”

Mackay’s shoppers also have plenty of ideas about what Caneland needs to prosper into the future.

Writing on Facebook, Kyla Lawn wants to see better facilities for parents.

“Dirty looks for breast feeding a baby in the food court but expected to go feed in the toilets, parents’ room down the Target end is too small and hot as hell, more than two people in there and you can’t move your pram,” she said.

Mackay mum Amy Forrester wants to see more accessibility for people with disabilities.

Carrie Galea seconded Mrs Forrester’s view and called for better bus transportation infrastructure.

“I personally don’t use buses, but the people who do have no shade or comfort while waiting,” she said.

“Including our older citizens and the disabled public.”

Kacey Rice and Alanna Hyde want to see faster lifts for people moving between floors.

Residents are also calling for more dining and shopping options.

“Mimco, Mecca, Grill’d, Dissh, Glassons, cinema, David Jones, Witchery, Country Road, T2, Billini, Apple, Betty’s Burgers, a tavern, Colette, Daiso, Honey Birdette, Lego, Lush, Nike, Sheike, Tommy Guns, Holey Moley,” writes Denika Gaillard.

Mindy Tichowitsch, meanwhile, wants a “proper donut shop”.

Daily Mercury | Duncan Evans

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