Back in 1982 New Zealand was a market with high import tariffs and a protected economy, meaning the cost of many goods was out of reach of many New Zealanders. The opportunity at the time was for an enterprising, no frills retailer who could find a way to bring New Zealanders bargains.
Sir Stephen Tindall took on the challenge and opened his first The Warehouse store on Auckland’s North Shore in 1982. Its plain warehouse style, piled high with a wide range of products at bargain prices, challenged established retailers and distribution models, and quickly became popular with customers.
Despite its ‘bargain basement’ appearance, The Warehouse developed a sophisticated business model, and was an early adopter of new technology and modern retailing systems.
With an efficient supply chain and distribution methods, The Warehouse was an innovator in low cost delivery that enabled it to sustain its competitive prices. As its inventory diversified and improved in quality, and the business grew.
The Warehouse expanded rapidly and became a major disruptor on the retail scene, generating opposition from some vested retail interests but also attracting invitations from customers from towns all over New Zealand to open in their community. They too were responding to the company’s mantra to make the desirable affordable.
As New Zealand opened its economy to global markets over the ensuing 30 years, The Warehouse expanded and diversified, utilising parallel importing, opening Warehouse Stationery and later acquiring Noel Leeming Group and Torpedo7 as well as range of online shopping and retail distribution businesses.
Retail innovation and a commitment to community and sustainability remains at the core of the Group’s DNA even as its physical and online stores have become an established part of the everyday lives of Kiwis.