How to reduce retail project challenges – fast!

How to reduce retail project challenges – fast!

How to reduce retail project challenges – fast!

Retail projects present significant logistical and code compliance challenges, especially refurbishments and extensions to existing shopping centres. USG Boral’s Jarrod Smith explains ways builders and sub-contractors can overcome them.

We’ve worked on a number of major shopping centre projects across Australia recently, so we thought it useful to summarise some of the challenges we’ve faced and how we found ways to overcome them.


Access to any commercial project site is typically a logistical nightmare. When it comes to the extension or refurbishment of existing shopping centres it becomes a horror story! Owners need shoppers to still be able to access unaffected parts, and their retail tenants demand it.

This often makes it very tricky for builders, subbies and shop-fitters to do their job, especially in getting necessary materials delivered as and when they’re needed to keep their workers working to meet hard deadlines. And deadlines for retail projects are harder than most – Christmas or June Sales are looming, new retail spaces have been let and individual tenants are constantly changing their custom design requirements.

Sub-contractors and shopfitters are under pressure to deliver, but can find themselves low in the pecking order when it comes to delivery of materials. Base-build materials take precedence over internal fit-out materials such as ceilings and walls. When crane-lifts are involved, they have to get in the queue… which can result in their workers sitting idle and the resultant increased project costs.

Having worked on many major retail projects, we understand the need to customise delivery schedules to specific site access requirements. We understand that sometimes that involves competing delivery priorities – but we’ve earned the reputation for patience and getting materials delivered to site when and where they’re needed.


Retail projects pose very specific challenges in terms of fire safety and acoustics. Materials and systems used must comply with Australian standards and the BCA – and this must be clearly documented. At the planning stage, internal fit-out solutions must be proven compliant, and materials manufacturers must be ready to provide this, supported by extensive test results, to reduce the compliance burden on builders and sub-contractors.

We often find that ‘in flight’ requirements for changes by individual retail tenants raise new compliance issues in the midst of a complex project. In these cases, speed of resolution and assurance is of the essence… New designs for internal fitting must be created fast – to meet hard deadlines. That’s when our internal Engineering team come to the rescue – turning designs into wall and ceiling solutions, so that work can continue on schedule in the confidence that design modifications will comply with code requirements.


When you’re looking for a manufacturer to partner with you to achieve your time and compliance goals for a retail project, the assistance and service they offer becomes infinitely more important than just getting a quote for the materials you think you’ll need.

To help make your project truly profitable, you need to look for:

  • Deep experience with similar projects
  • Flexibility to meet site-specific delivery requirements
  • Complimentary expert advice to help you meet (and document) building code requirements – to minimise defects, call-backs and re-work from non-compliant or faulty materials
  • No-cost engineering expertise from initial design to project completion – helping you solve problems as they arise
  • Fast-tracking of specifications and design changes requested by retail tenants ‘in flight’

At USG Boral, we take retail projects seriously and understand the special challenges they present. For example, our grid and tile ceiling products have been used extensively by major retailers including Ford, Woolworths, Coles and Aldi. We’re also a member of ASOFIA and work closely with the shop-fitting industry to help make retail projects successful.

If you’d like advice on a current or future retail construction or refurbishment project, contact our Account Management team on 1800 003 377 or call TecASSIST™ on 1800 811 222.

Jarrod Smith is USG Boral’s Commercial Manager for Victoria and Tasmania. With 15 years’ experience in the building industry, he has spent his career working with contractors, builders and architects.