By NZHJ April 11, 2020 Industry news

15 years ago, New Zealand’s population was 4.1 million souls and we were being led by Helen Clark and Michael Cullen’s Labour Government with an election approaching later in the year.

The September 2005 election by the way would be the first contested by the Māori Party and Destiny New Zealand.

And, although the market was riding high at that point, NZ Hardware Journal’s April 2005 Editorial was warning of tougher times ahead:

“This market sector will not always be on such a high.

“The economy is cooling, interest rates are rising and the winds of change are beginning to cause the housing market sails to luff.

“Competition for the consumer dollar is intense at a time personal debt stands at the highest levels ever.”


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In terms of the increasing competition for the Kiwi dollar, by September 2004 we’d already witnessed the collapse of The Building Depot.

Plus, by April 2005, it was already two years since Bunnings had opened up its massive Riccarton store which, at 12,000m2, was the first of its own from-scratch big boxes for the New Zealand market.

By May 2004 the equally capacious Bunnings Hamilton would open.

To stop the rot, in 2004 Mitre 10’s own big box programme – comprising 20 Mitre 10 MEGA stores over a three-year period – had started rolling out.

The programme was led by the first MEGAs in Hastings and Henderson. These were massive steps up for the co-op and for their members, although both came with a smaller footprint than the Bunnings competition.

By April 2005 Mitre 10 MEGA stores with at least 45,000 SKUs were also operating in Christchurch, Tauranga and two other Auckland sites, with Mitre 10 MEGAs in Petone and later Wanganui also set to open in the coming months.

The behemoth that was and is MEGA was rolling out apace and this month 15 years ago, we were announcing the opening of Mitre 10 MEGA Invercargill which would inject over $2.5 million into the local economy and create some 75 full and part time jobs.

Managed by Jason Smith, the $15 million development on the corner of Tay Street and Elles Road, spanned a massive 1.6 hectares – “the equivalent of nearly three rugby fields, and five times bigger than the current Mitre 10 Home & Trade Esk Street store,” we said at the time.

15 years ago we were also announcing the plans for a MEGA store on John F Kennedy Drive in Palmerston North the site covering an ever bigger 2.4 hectare area!

MEGA Palmy North’s owner was Bill Bendall and the store would open in mid-2006.



15 years ago, Auckland-based Cemix was owned by entrepreneur Geoffrey Clark, who was said to have introduced not only the concept of self-storage in this country but also the now ubiquitous Port-a-loo.

Then, in April 2005, thanks to his “uncanny ability to recognise opportunities and turn them into triumphs” Geoffrey was about to take Cemix to the next level, as they say, with an ambitious multi-million dollar drymix project.

Adding to Cemix’s established concrete admixtures business, the new highly automated plant in South Auckland – said to be the first such automated drymix manufacturing facility in Australasia – would manufacture products for both to the DIY and trade markets.

And the rest as they say is history…

Interesting too that this time 15 years ago we were just raising a flag about contactless payments being touted to remove the need for consumer to carry cash.

Soon, we’d be using “systems that require a user only to wave a small object – credit card, key ring, cell phone or similar near a reader terminal”.

Today, our increasingly cashless society is developing apace, the latest driver of course being COVID-19, which has driven contactless payments providers to waive fees in a bid to enable retailers and therefore consumers to minimise physical contact with their potentially infectious POS machinery.

Then as now…

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