Countdown has joined the growing number of local chains buying out whole retail complexes with the purchase of the Wainuiomata Shopping Centre.
Holding firm on its claim as New Zealand’s largest single supermarket chain, Countdown's new purchase comes with the promise of a redevelopment.
Countdown is now among several other chains that have bought out entire shopping centres or properties for the opportunity to ensure a long term future for the business.
James Walker, Countdown general manager of corporate affairs, says the chain is excited for the future of the Wainuiomata branch.
“It is very early days, but we will be considering how we can redevelop the site. We are really excited about the future for Wainuiomata Countdown,” Walker says.
The Wainuiomata Shopping Centre has been an ongoing concern for the locals and Chris Bishop, MP for Lower Hutt, says that the purchase is great news for the Wainui community.
“The state of the mall is one of the top issues that gets raised with me by residents. I welcome the news and look forward to seeing how the development unfolds,” says Bishop.
The Wainuiomata Shopping Centre is among Wellington's oldest malls.
Countdown, a subsidiary of Progressive Enterprises, who itself is a subsidiary of Australia’s Woolworths Limited, already has 184 supermarkets across New Zealand.
This is not the first instance of larger international chains buying up local malls.
Australia clothing brand Cotton On invested in its first shopping centre located in Tauranga’s Papamoa in 2016, while The Warehouse Group bought up a massive 47,914 square metres of retail space in New Market as part of its new ‘mixed use development’ structure.
Fiona Shilton, general manager of property for The Warehouse, told a previous Register article by Elly Strang that, "mixed-use is a very new approach to development in New Zealand."
Large corporations are presumably buying these spaces predominately to rent out space to other retailers and business’ looking to open up in the area and to create new property opportunities for owners.
Ray Wallace, Mayor of Lower Hutt, states that the announcement was very welcomed.
“We have worked for some time with the mall owner to facilitate a positive outcome for this site and the Wainuiomata community and I believe this purchase by Progressive Enterprises Ltd is a great result,” said Wallace.
“This is an exciting time for not only Wainuiomata Countdown but the wider Wainuiomata and Hutt Valley communities and we look forward to hearing more about the plans Progressive Enterprises Ltd have for the site.”
Woolworths Group 2016 annual report stated that New Zealand food sales for the year were NZ$6.1 billion, an increase of 3.8 percent on the previous year.