By Aimee Chanthadavong

The retail industry and City of Sydney have created a retail advisory panel to help shape Sydney’s future retail growth.

Speaking to Retailbiz, a City of Sydney spokesperson said there were great expressions of interest to bring life to Sydney’s retail hub.

"Council agreed to form the Panel following an approach by the Sydney Business Chamber and members of the retail industry who expressed a desire to work collaboratively to secure the future of Sydney as a vibrant retail centre,” the spokesperson said.

“The opening of the new Pitt Street Mall, Mid City Centre and Stage One of the Westfield Centre has also focussed attention on the opportunities for the sector beyond 2010."

The panel comprises of 17 businesses and stakeholders, including Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, David Jones Sydney CBD regional manager Benjamin Webster and Westfield Group director shopping centre management and marketing Andy Hedges.

"The structure of the Panel was determined following an examination of international and national models.  We have adopted a similar model to that of the City of Melbourne and Victorian Government who have been working together successfully to develop Melbourne's retail economy for a number of years. Panellists were invited to participate by Lord Mayor Clover Moore," the spokesperson said.

Currently, visiting shoppers are worth more than $1 billion each year to the retail sector in Sydney and NSW.

According to Minister for Tourism Jodi McKay, the panel will help position Sydney as Australia’s best retail destination.

“We want to ensure Sydney is up there with the best in the world – New York, Paris, London and Los Angeles – as one of the most exciting places to take a ‘shopcation’,” she said.

“The NSW Government is seeking to work with Sydney’s leading retailers and key tourism sectors like the cruise industry to build on the city’s global shopping appeal.

“Shopping is one of the most popular activities undertaken by visitors and this new precinct will be a drawcard in a city that is already packed with top-shelf attractions.”

The retail sector employs more than 14 per cent of the City's workforce, makes up around 37 per cent of all businesses (7,400 businesses) and 13 per cent of floor space in the City of Sydney area.

"The Panel is one of several initiatives by the City to promote and support retail in the City Centre and the City's villages. It provides a forum for the retail industry, the NSW Government and Council to work together on issues of common interest, provide strategic advice that will help shape the future of retailing in Sydney,” the City of Sydney spokesperson said.

“It will also identify and create opportunities for retailers to capitalise on the expansion of major events and tourism campaigns through better integration with Events NSW, Tourism NSW and Business Events Sydney."