The town centre project has been underway for almost a year and is being managed by Colliers International. Kmart’s arrival signifies the redevelopment is near completion.
It will open its doors next Thursday on 24 March and be one of two anchor tenants for the centre, alongside Countdown.
Bethlehem Town Centre manager Andrew Wadsworth says both customers and retailers are very excited for the centre’s completion.
“The final piece of the road reconfiguration will be finished just before the Kmart opening,” he says.
Kmart previously only had one store in Tauranga at Bayfair Shopping Centre in Mount Maunganui, so Wadsworth says this enhances Bethlehem as a convenient place to shop in the west of Tauranga’s CBD.
“We have a great mix of retailers and product offerings complementing each other to create the ultimate shopping experience. Kmart’s opening will significantly increase the retail offering to our customers,” he says.
The town centre redevelopment involved moving existing tenants, demolishing buildings, restructuring the car park and roads in and out of the centre and adding additional retail space, including Kmart’s new footprint.
The completed centre will have about 50 stores and more than 1000 free car parks across 20,000 square metres. The redevelopment added 2000 square metres to the centre’s footprint.
Kmart opened its first store in Henderson in 1988, and now has 18 stores around the country.
Its expansion here is nowhere near the rate of that in Australia – there it has 182 stores, including an online store.
Therefore, its move to open a second store in Tauranga is significant, showing Kmart has been taking of headlines calling the city ‘the new Auckland’.
Property prices have been soaring as many people, including Aucklanders, move into the area and buy up property.
There has also been a petition launched recently to get Kmart New Zealand an online store like it has in Australia.
Paige Taylah Constable of Christchurch created the petition on Change.org.
Her reasoning is short and to the point in the description: “Kmart needs to have an online store- it's as simple as that.”
So far, 3,283 people have signed the petition, with the goal to reach 5000 signatures.
There’s been an outpouring of supportive comments for the idea.
“The only time i get to Kmart is after the kids go to bed!” wrote one supporter in Te Puke.
“Because I buy everything at Kmart. It's amazing and so cheap! The Wellington Kmart is agers away, and I'm a student so it's hard to get transport therefore being able to shop Kmart online will be amazing,” wrote one supporter in Wellington.
“Online shopping is where it's at! C'mon Kmart keep up ☺”wrote another.
Others in Matamata, Invercargill and Taupo spoke of not having a Kmart in their town and desperately wanting one.
The Register contacted Kmart for further comment about its plans for an online store and hasn’t received a response.
However, seeing as its main New Zealand competitors Farmers and The Warehouse already have online stores up and running, an online store may very well be on the horizon.