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The Warehouse rolls out biggest distribution store

By Chris Hutching

Friday 6th June 2003

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The Warehouse may be going through internal management upheavals over its Australian expansion plans but it continues to roll out new facilities in New Zealand.

Yesterday Prime Minister Helen Clark was due to open an $18.5 million distribution store servicing the South Island and lower North Island.

The new 32,750sq m distribution store at Rolleston, 25km south of Christchurch, is believed to be the biggest single-level building in the South Island, occupying more than 3.2ha or more than six rugby fields on a 7ha site on the western side of the main- trunk railway line.

The Warehouse bought the site and has built the distribution centre but the second leg of the deal involves the sale of the land and buildings back to the Selwyn District Council, one of the wealthiest districts in the country, whose councillors are keen supporters of a range of economic and property developments.

The $18.5 million price includes building and land costs of $13 million and internal fitout costs of $5.5 million.

The deal was put together by Grant Hutchings of CB Richard Ellis, who said yesterday that the opening was the culmination of two years putting the deal together, employment for 100 construction workers and employment for 30 permanent staff at the new warehouse.

Two other bulk retail sites over the road are also being marketed and it is understood a buyer may be announced for one of them in a few days.

Councillor Jens Christiansen, chairman of the council's economic development committee, said the second part of the deal ­ the Selwyn District repurchase ­ is being finalised and he expected settlement within days.

The Warehouse development and several other initiatives ­ notably Plan Change 60 to rezone land for residential and commercial use ­ are part of attempts by local property owners to promote the town.

For example, a commercial block of land in the centre of the town that has been on the market for some time was been re-launched this week to coincide with The Warehouse opening.

The 1.2ha is owned by property investment group Rolleston Park, headed by Robin Shultz.

Selwyn District mayor Michael McEvedy said The Warehouse's decision to locate at Rolleston is due in part to the council's economic development strategy and he expects it will be a catalyst for further development.

The Warehouse chose the Rolleston site because of its proximity to State Highway 1, Christchurch International Airport, the Port of Lyttelton and the major national rail link. In addition, the rates The Warehouse will pay will be about a quarter of what they would have been if the development was built in Christchurch.

The Warehouse expects about 20 containers a day through the distribution centre and up to 40 or more at peak times.

A computer-controlled tracking and distribution system will be installed at the site. It is already used at the company's Wiri site.

The Warehouse founder Stephen Tindall said the new South Island Distribution Centre (SIDC) was a significant milestone for The Warehouse Group in New Zealand.

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