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Month of Milestones as Whitcoulls Celebrates 130 years

Media Release
20 June 2013

Month of Milestones For Whitcoulls

Retail chain celebrates 130 years

June is a month of milestones for national retailer Whitcoulls.

One hundred and thirty years ago this month the business then known as Whitcombe & Tombs was founded to become only the 15th limited liability company in New Zealand.

And in addition to its 130 year milestone, the business this month celebrates its return to local ownership two years ago as well as the successful refurbishment of its Auckland flagship store.

The $3.5 million refurbishment of the Queen St premises has taken 18 months and the store has remained open and busy during the work.

Whitcoulls managing director Ian Draper says the refurbishment signals the owners’ confidence in the business and its direction.

“Being back under New Zealand ownership has enabled us to turn a heritage landmark building into a flagship store, a development we are very proud of,” Mr Draper says.

The company has worked closely with Auckland Council and the Historic Places Trust to ensure all historical features of the building have been protected.

Whitcoulls returned to New Zealand ownership in 2011 when the James Pascoe Group purchased it. The James Pascoe Group also owns Pascoes the Jewellers, Farmers and Stevens among others.

Meanwhile, the company has medium term plans to open a new store in Pukekohe and has added children’s floors to three Auckland stores in Albany, Botany and Sylvia Park. A kids store is also planned for Whitcoulls in Christchurch.

There is strong demand for children’s products in general, Mr Draper says with not only books that are strong sellers, but also anything educational such as art and craft, games, toys and puzzles.

“It’s been an interesting two years to say the least. We have had to deal with quite a few challenges – the GFC, a very competitive marketplace and a huge effort reconnecting with our historic customer base,” he says.

Whitcoulls plans to run a number of nationwide specials to mark its 130 years in New Zealand. The company currently has 59 stores throughout the country.


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