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Unique Mega And Kids Concept Store

Whitcoulls Launches Unique Mega And Kids Concept Store

New Zealand’s largest book retailer Whitcoulls today launches a unique retail concept with the opening of its first mega-store in the new Botany Town Centre in east Auckland.

The $1.9 million development combines an extended range of books, magazines and stationery with a music store, interactive children’s store and café. The retail environment features wide aisles, an assortment of open spaces and activity areas.

The 2,200 sq metre, two-level mega-store, opening May 3, will be Whitcoulls second largest store, after The Corner in Auckland’s Queen Street. The concept was developed specifically from customer research findings, which also indicated the opportunity of creating a new kids’ concept store.

The company spent $0.5 million developing this particular element, which includes interactive displays, a turreted reading room, a giant ‘active’ volcano and walk through cave and Hogwart’s Castle from the Harry Potter books.

Fran Stanley, Whitcoulls chief operating officer, says the kids’ concept will test the market. “If it is successful, we will look at rolling-out stand-alone kids concept stores in other areas,” he says. The children’s area was developed in response to overwhelming consumer demand for a retail environment that was “fun and celebrated learning”.

Award-winning music retailer Cedica is also part of the mega-store mix. Whitcoulls acquired the independent retailer in March, opening the first Cedica within Whitcoulls in Queen Street last month. The Botany Town Centre location is the second Cedica within Whitcoulls.

The ground floor of the new store will also offer traditional Whitcoulls fare including books, stationery, videos, magazines and cards.

Fran Stanley says the mega-store development will allow Whitcoulls to deliver a greater range and variety of product. “The store has also been designed to encourage people to relax and enjoy the novel experience – there’s lots of seats, room to move, two places to get coffee and lots to look at.”

Some 77% of the New Zealand population have access to a Whitcoulls store and 40% of the population pass through a Whitcoulls store each month. Innovation, says Fran Stanley, is essential to keep customers happy.

“We are wary of standing still and getting stagnant. Most of our sales are of items which are no more than three months old,” she says. “We are as much a fashion business as clothing.”

Whitcoulls has 65 stores nationwide with more than 1400 staff. Annual turnover is $200 million.


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