New World Metro will no longer have a monopoly in downtown Wellington.
Progressive Enterprises will open the doors to its smallest Countdown supermarket on Wednesday, on the corner of Lambton Quay and Cable Car Lane.
The new store is just down the road from supermarket rival New World Metro, which has catered for central Wellington shoppers’ needs for the past 14 years.
Countdown managing director Dave Chambers said supermarket competition in the downtown Wellington was about to ramp up.
“To bring competition to this part of Wellington is critically important, we think, for our customers [and] it’s really important for our business.
“We just can’t wait … to bring that competition and that competitive edge to central Wellington.”
All food prices in their Lambton Quay store would be the same as other Countdown stores, he said.
“If our competitors don’t, that’s up to them, but at Countdown we do so the prices our customers get at Johnsonville or Newtown are the same here in central Wellington.
“Bring on that competition.”
The store, which had been a long time coming, was a $6.4-million investment, said Chambers.
“We’ve been looking for a store in Wellington for a long time, and we know in Wellington it’s really important to even get on the right side of the street, because for a food retailer, you need to be where the customers are.
“So we got close a few times, but we never quite cracked it in terms of location.”
Chambers described the store as unique, as it was only the company’s second store that did not have a car park.
“We will only have walk-up customers here. We’ve got one of these stores in Auckland, but it’s about three times the size,” he said.
“It’s the only store we’ve got with our loading dock seven or eight storeys up on the Terrace, so it’s really unique and difficult.”
The project began with contractors earthquake-strengthened the building, before the full fit-out could go ahead.
However, it was design issues – not strengthening issues – that caused delays late last year.
The former Just Jeans shop was expected to be transformed before Christmas. However, that was pushed out until now.
This is Countdown’s first central Wellington challenge to the rival Foodstuffs supermarket chain, which has big New World stores in Thorndon and Wakefield St, as well as smaller metro stores at the Railway Station and Willis St.
It will be the supermarket chain’s first Wellington metro store. They will employ 88 staff members.
Countdown has taken a 25-year lease on the site owned by OLT Properties.