Back in 1982 New Zealand was a market with high import tariffs and a protected economy, meaning the cost of many goods was out of reach of many New Zealanders. The opportunity at the time was for an enterprising, no frills retailer who could find a way to bring New Zealanders bargains.
Sir Stephen Tindall took on the challenge and opened his first The Warehouse store on Auckland’s North Shore in 1982. Its plain warehouse style, piled high with a wide range of products at bargain prices, challenged established retailers and distribution models, and quickly became popular with customers. Despite its ‘bargain basement’ appearance, The Warehouse developed a sophisticated business model, and was an early adopter of new technology and modern retailing systems.
With an efficient supply chain and distribution methods, The Warehouse was an innovator in low cost delivery that enabled it to sustain its competitive prices. As its inventory diversified and improved in quality, and the business grew. The Warehouse expanded rapidly and became a major disruptor on the retail scene, generating opposition from some vested retail interests but also attracting invitations from customers from towns all over New Zealand to open in their community. They too were responding to the company’s mantra to make the desirable affordable.
As New Zealand opened its economy to global markets over the ensuing 30 years, The Warehouse expanded and diversified, utilising parallel importing, opening Warehouse Stationery and later acquiring Noel Leeming Group and Torpedo7 as well as range of online shopping and retail distribution businesses. Retail innovation and a commitment to community and sustainability remains at the core of the Group’s DNA even as its physical and online stores have become an established part of the everyday lives of Kiwis.
1982: First The Warehouse store opens in Wairau Road, Auckland.
1990: First nationally distributed advertising mailer.
1991: Sales exceed $100 million.
1991: First Warehouse Stationery store opens
1992: Opening of first store of 25,000 square feet (2,322m2)
1992: Launching of The Warehouse card
1992: Opening of first store of 50,000 square feet (4,645m2)
1994: Public float and listing on the New Zealand Stock Exchange
1995: The Warehouse added to NZSE40 Index
1995: Introduction of green gardening department
1996: Opening of North Island Distribution Centre
1996: Introduction of the major AEG brand
1997: Introduction of the first store of 75,000 square feet (6,967m2)
1998: Introduction of apparel as a major department
1998: First shipment of parallel imported goods
2000: The Warehouse added to the NZSE10 index
2000: Sales exceed $1 billion
2000: Opening of the first store of 100,000 square feet (9,290m2)
2001: The Warehouse Financial Services launched
2001: First Community and Environment Report produced
2004: The Warehouse introduces its Ethical Sourcing Policy
2009: The Warehouse online shopping launched
2012: The Warehouse completes full range online and celebrates its 30th birthday
2013: The Warehouse Group acquires Noel Leeming Group (NLG) and Torpedo 7, No 1 Fitness, Shotgun Supplements, Shop HQ and Insight Traders
2014: The Warehouse Group purchases R&R Sport and Schooltex
2015: Massey University launches its Bachelor of Business and Retail Management and appoints Jonathan Elms as the first Sir Stephen Tindall Chair of Retail Management
2015: Acquisition of Diners Club NZ and launch of Warehouse Money, a new generation of financial services products