Direct Factory Outlets
|Owner||Direct Factory Outlets Pty Ltd|
|No. of floors||1-2|
Direct Factory Outlets, abbreviated as DFO, is the name for a no-frills group of discount shopping centres in Australia. They are large-floor warehouse buildings containing partitioned stores where retail outlets sell excess or previous seasons' stocks at reduced prices.
Its model is to find cheap land, build a cheap but air-conditioned shopping mall.
The Direct Factory Outlet retail chain is owned by the privately owned Austexx Group, led by David Goldberger and David Weiland with their first centre opened at Moorabbin Airport (Cheltenham) in 1997. Former Australian Competition & Consumer Commission chief Graeme Samuel holds a $50 million interest in Austexx through a blind trust. Valued at A$1.5 billion, in early 2010 the business was put up for sale with a number of retail investment funds expressing interest.
DFO centres have traditionally been located around airports: a side effect of the Airports Act of 1996, the Commonwealth Government has planning control over the land, meaning state planning legislation can be bypassed by developers. In addition the property developer is able to exploit the cost difference between retail and industrial rents, gives outlet centre operators a distinct advantage over traditional shopping centres. A survey by Melbourne newspaper The Age in 2007 found that in all three DFO-owned centres, most shops carried at least some full-price, current-season stock, available at normal shopping centres. By 2008 five legal challenges to DFO developments have been made by competing retail developers and the Shopping Centre Council of Australia, all being unsuccessful.
On 16 August 2010, lead bank Suncorp-Metway, along with St George Bank, National Australia Bank and Lloyds Banking Group, issued a notice to parent company Austexx demanding repayment within 24 hours of the A$450 million they are owed. The South Wharf centre was under an A$500 million debt, with work on completing the centre stopped after workers placed bans over non-payment. Parent company Austexx is understood to have total debts of A$1.2 billion, with the four relatively successful DFO sites used as cross-collateral for bank-funded expansion into five other less successful locations (Canberra, Cairns and Hobart). The group of banks appointed insolvency specialists KordaMentha as advisers, with the entire group facing receivership. Negotiations continued until a deal was struck on Thursday 19 August, the four banks extending their funding to allow the South Wharf development to be completed. The ten DFO shopping complexes will then be sold off separately to repay the $1 billion owed to the banks. The banks hope to recoup most or all of the money they are owed by avoiding a 'fire sale' of assets, but neither Austexx founders or other investors are expected to be repaid until the bank debts are settled.
Direct Factory Outlets (DFO) locations are:
Australian Capital Territory
- DFO Canberra and Homemaker Hub (now Canberra Outlet Centre) – Fyshwick, 11 kilometres (6.8 miles) east of Canberra
New South Wales
- DFO Brisbane – Brisbane Airport, 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) north-east of Brisbane CBD
- DFO Jindalee – Jindalee, 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) south-west of Brisbane CBD
- DFO Cairns – Cairns
- (Proposed) DFO Hobart and Homemaker Hub – Hobart International Airport, 17 kilometres (11 mi) east of Hobart CBD
- DFO Moorabbin – Cheltenham, 20 kilometres (12 mi) south-east of Melbourne. Originally Fairways Leisure Market, the centre was opened in 1992, on land adjacent to Moorabbin Airport. In 1997, the centre was purchased by the Austexx Group and was the group's first of eleven DFO shopping centres in Australia. The centre had approximately 45 stores, on 8,000m2 of land. Since opening, the centre has been expanded to 24,715 metres (81,086 ft).
- DFO Essendon – Essendon, 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) north of Melbourne - opened in Oct 2005
- DFO South Wharf & Homemaker Hub – South Wharf, Melbourne CBD
Between 2005 and 2009 DFO Spencer Street operated as part of the Southern Cross railway station complex. Tenants were relocated from 15 October 2009 to the new DFO at South Wharf, the Spencer Street centre being refitted and rebranded by Austexx as "Spencer Street fashion station".
- DFO Perth - Perth Airport, Western Australia. 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) East of Perth central business district. The precinct opened on 3 October 2018 with 113 retail outlets and 1500 parking bays.
Essendon Centre plane crash
On 21 February 2017 just before 9am, a Beechcraft Super King Air on a passenger charter flight bound for King Island, Tasmania crashed shortly after takeoff from nearby Essendon Airport. All 5 people aboard the flight were killed. As the shopping centre had not opened yet, only staff were at the centre, all of whom were accounted for. The incident was the worst aviation accident in Victoria for 30 years.
- "theage.com.au - The Age". The Age. Melbourne.
- Pallisco, Marc (9 February 2010). "Ownership of 1.5 Billion DFO Retail Chain to Change". realestatesource.com.au. Retrieved 10 May 2010.
- Bachelard, Michael (22 August 2010). "DFO carve-up to pay banks". The Age. Melbourne: www.theage.com.au. Retrieved 23 August 2010.
- Cummins, Carolyn (26 April 2010). "DFO sale signals trusts are finally turning corner". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 10 May 2010.
- "Factory outlet centres go from strength to strength". Inside Retailing. 21 April 2008. Archived from the original on 8 December 2009. Retrieved 10 May 2010.
- "Direct factory outrage". The Age. Melbourne. 31 October 2007. Retrieved 10 May 2010.[dead link]
- Gluyas, Richard (18 August 2010). "Last-ditch effort to save DFO shopping empire". The Australian. The Australian. Retrieved 18 August 2010.
- Dunlevy, Maurice (17 August 2010). "Melbourne DFO faces receivership with $500m debt". Herald Sun. Herald Sun. Retrieved 18 August 2010.
- How state axed $125 mil megastore for Kembla Grange
- "DFO on the way". The Mercury. 25 February 2008. Archived from the original on 26 February 2008. Retrieved 25 February 2008.
- "Hobart airport DFO still on radar". ABC News. 18 August 2010. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
- Pallisco, Marc (9 February 2010). "Ownership of 1.5 Billion DFO Retail Chain to Change". realestatesource.com.au. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
- Khadem, Nassim (2 May 2004). "Centres feel left out of discount boom". The Age. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
- Pallisco, Marc (3 October 2009). "DFO South Wharf, Melbourne, to Open October 15". realestatesource.com.au. Retrieved 10 May 2010.
- "Opening day for Perth's new DFO". PerthNow. 2 October 2018. Retrieved 5 October 2018.