After years of planning, Bunnings NZ is finally about open its new $37 million Westgate warehouse, a whopper of a place and its largest in this country.
Jacqui Coombes, director of HR and New Zealand, said the 15,000sq m Bunnings Warehouse would be open on Wednesday "just to get the team used to having customers around" but hold its grand opening at 9am on Thursday.
She acknowledged it had taken some time.
"I started in 2011 and we were talking Westgate then," she said of the store, which eclipses Riccarton's 13,000sq m and Mt Maunganui of similar size.
The new store is behind the Pak'NSave at 21-33 Fred Taylor Drive, Massey.
"This is Grey Lynn on steroids," said Westgate complex manager Michael Winiata, referring to the central Auckland store on Great North Rd where he worked previously.
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Bunnings, owned by ASX-listed Wesfarmers, bought the site from the Midgley family, picked for its largest store "because of the growth in this location, the massive trade area and excellent transport connections", Coombes said.
Costco developing a new store opening next year nearby was simply another bonus, she said.
Pre-Covid, Bunnings recruited 140 staff for the new store who have been "merchandising" for the past six weeks.
The new two-level building, with 327 ground-level carparks, has four separate ground-floor shops, to be leased to other businesses.
And the entire complex is now under negotiation, already being sold pre-opening: Bunnings' formula is to develop, sell then lease back stores to release capital for further expansion. Sole agents Bayleys referred to residential growth in Whenuapai, Red Hills, Westgate, Hobsonville Point, Kumeu and Huapai in its marketing campaign for the new store.
Coombes said around 41,000 SKUs (stock-keeping units) or product lines would be sold, more choice than in any other Bunnings.
Its more extensive dream kitchen concept has also been introduced "because it's more inspirational", showcasing fully built kitchens and many products throughout the store, such as lighting, flooring and tiles.
A smart-home zone display is up. The chain's most extensive tap display divides units into brands, families, styles and colours. Safety equipment and supplies take up an entire aisle which Coombes said showed the rising importance of that area.
The 50-store Bunnings got $27.2m Government wage support for 4277 staff but Coombes said it didn't apply for the extension "because we were back up and trading".
In early May, the chain said it would shut seven stores with the loss of around 145 jobs. Coombes said today those were mainly either small outlets or leases were expiring
Between 5 million and 10 million annual shopper visits are expected at Westgate "but it's not just the numbers, it's the spend".
Trade customers will be offered the PowerPass application, aimed at a quicker, better experience.
Four self-checkout counters have been built and receipts are emailed to all customers "because thermal receipts fade over time".
Displays of toilets and lawn mowers are mounted one level up on walls which Coombes said made it easier for customers to pull boxes out from underneath.
The outdoor garden centre area is all under cover "and indoor plants are absolutely going off. People are spending more time at home", Coombes said.
Bunnings' peak sales period runs from October till the festive season, Coombes said.
Next month, the business will announce its annual result for the year to June 30, 2020.