Mitre 10 New Zealand builds pioneer store

by | Jul 14, 2021

Mitre 10 New Zealand builds pioneer store

Mitre 10, Wanaka, New Zealand

Mitre 10 New Zealand and the local Wanaka community recently welcomed the stunning Mitre 10 MEGA Wanaka to the area, with the store’s trail-blazing design setting the bar high for future Mitre 10 stores. The new store is not only a one-stop-shop to all local residents and holidaymakers who frequent the area, but boasts environmentally friendly features not often seen within hardware stores. 

Business: Mitre 10 MEGA Wanaka
Owners: Martin and Allan Dippie
Location: Wanaka, New Zealand
Buying Group: Mitre 10 New Zealand

Located at Three Parks Business Centre, Mitre 10 MEGA Wanaka demonstrates innovation and sustainability in both the construction materials and technologies that operate the building, while servicing the local community with an exceptional offer. 

Proud owners Martin Dippie and brother Allan Dippie have owned the local Mitre 10 since 2000 and built the store on the back of extensive retail, construction and business experience.

This is the third Mitre 10 store for Martin and his wife Frances, who also own Mitre 10 MEGA Dunedin and Mitre 10 Mosgiel. Allan has extensive experience in retailing, operating the Nichols Garden Centres family business for years, while also working in construction and land development. 

The store itself has a long and proud history, with Kevin and Maria King initially opening a Value Rite Hardware store in 1990 which rebranded as Mitre 10 Wanaka in 1995. In 2000, Martin and Allan bought the Mitre 10 Wanaka store and shifted it to the Anderson Heights Business Park in 2003, where it has served the local community for the last 17 years, before its reinvention to the Mitre 10 MEGA Wanaka late last year. 

The store’s General Manager, Mark Watson, who has worked with the Dippie family for over 30 years, said it was extremely rewarding to see the community embrace the store after a 14-month build.

After starting with the business in 1987, Mark has run multiple stores with Mitre 10 throughout the years, before being given the opportunity to take on the Wanaka store in 2000.

“Wanaka was once a sleepy old town in the 1990s, but as the ski industry grew so too has the town, which has gone through a massive construction and property boom in recent years. We have really enjoyed partnering with the community and the town as it has grown over the years,” he said.

“Since the opening of the new store in November last year, the response from the community of 10,000 local residents has well exceeded any of our initial budgets and targets. According to customer feedback, the locals love the design of the store because it fits in well with the natural landscape of the local area. Customers have also nick-named the store ‘the Westfield of Wanaka’.”

The store is planning to install a large glasshouse so customers can view garden products all year round.

“The store boasts a very broad selection with its range and offer, from most things hardware to a very large homeware department and garden centre, right through to products such as snow chains needed to access the local ski fields. We are a general store as well, so locals and holidaymakers can purchase a lot of odd materials from us. There are not a lot of other retailers in town, so we often fill that void for the community,” Mark said.

Store of the future

While the garden and trade centre remain stand out features of the store, sized generously at 4000 square metres and 6000 square metres respectively, the expansive showroom area that has been implemented in-store is not only customised but also inspirational to the local market, according to Mark.

“The showroom is a huge hit with customers. It has been built over and above the traditional Mitre 10 design and includes high end timber tops and walk in pantries. Our tool hub is another stand out feature of the store, built with a hands-on demonstration hub, so it certainly is not like the traditional tool aisles you usually see in hardware stores,” he said.

“Customers can come in and trial and test a wide variety of tools before purchasing, with the testing stations now very popular with the locals. We have implemented several hubs in-store, including meeting lounges for our trade customers so they can come in, meet with their clients and discuss plans, as well as investigate products for their next project at the same time.”

“We also use the in-store hubs for training, so suppliers can use these areas to demonstrate their goods to staff and customers. In-store demonstrations, such as rose pruning and building planter boxes, often held in the hubs and we run a lot of our ‘Kids Clubs’ events around this counter space as well. These four hubs are constantly used for education and demonstration in-store.”

“Future marketing for the store focus on these hubs as we push for suppliers to come in and demonstrate their latest innovations. We also run exciting demonstrations, including a snow chain-fitting workshop that was recently held outside on the weekend. We brought in a four-wheel drive and some professionals at lunch time who assisted customers in fitting and trialling snow chains and allowing them to ask questions. We will run this every couple of weeks so we remain a place of resource for the customer,” Mark said.

Local competition

Direct competition in the local area includes a large Placemakers, which predominantly deals in building materials with a small retail offer, while there are a bunch of smaller plumbing and electrical merchants also in the local area. With the store sitting at 60 per cent retail and 40 per cent trade. Mark says the store’s significant business drivers will continue to be implementing an exceptional range, ongoing innovation and outstanding customer service.

In-store qualities

The superior design creates an open space combined with plenty of originality in-store, according to Mark, who said the appeal of the open display areas has customers always commenting on how open and light the store feels when they first walk in.

Additional to the popular look and feel is the building’s environmentally friendly credentials, which see Mitre 10 MEGA Wanaka as quite the revolutionary when it comes to sustainability.

Featuring a photovoltaic solar array on the roof, electric vehicle charging stations and energy efficient lighting, heating and cooling, the building also houses a recycling station that accepts difficult-to-recycle materials such as soft plastics and polystyrene. 

“We have also implemented a thermal block for the main retail box area, which has allowed us to minimise energy wastage when heating and cooling the store. The main retail hall is clad and roofed with Kingspan PIR core fire resistant panels that have an R5 insulation rating. Our actual goal is to be off the national grid for 50 per cent of the year, subject to seasonality and available sunlight hours. The natural light coming in from the slipped roof also allows plenty of natural sunlight to enter the main retail box,” he said.

High underneath the slip roof, smart automatic-opening windows provide sustainable and energy-efficient passive ventilation, and opens or closes automatically depending on wind direction and interior temperature.

“We have solar energy generated through the roof and this has also made us more sustainable as this solar energy is a direct offset to our main income feed on power. The solar array is grid-tied which means any surplus generation is exported back into the national grid. LED smart lighting technology throughout and automatic, dimmable lighting controls to retail spaces, also provide a sustainable and environmentally-sound solution.”

“Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) was also utilised when building the store, with  extensive use of CLT in the mezzanine office areas, retail box and café. The natural timber ensures the walls are up to eight inches thick, and delivers excellent thermal, seismic and noise ratings. Another key benefit of using CLT is its carbon sequestration, with the timber also cleverly acting as a carbon store,” Mark said.

In the hot dry summer climate, evaporative cooling units cool outdoor air by evaporating water within the unit and circulating it around the store. This allows air conditioning units to operate in economiser (free) mode most of the time. The store also utilises collected rain water from the roof for cleaning cars and outdoor areas around the store.

A recycling station is available at the front of the store, where customers can cut open their boxes and recycle their packaging, and reduces the impact of ongoing operations. Electric car chargers are available at the front of the store as well.

Mark said the store is constantly testing out new customer offers including ‘Click ‘n Collect’ lockers at the front of the store, “which we are trialling alongside our online offer post-COVID. This is primarily aimed at holidaymakers who come into town late, so they can still pick up everything they need from the store.”

“Stores like this aren’t built every day and Mitre 10 has some fantastic initiatives moving forward in product and ranging. Both Martin and Allan fully committed to creating a futuristic store and it will be great to see how much benefit the business will receive from these modernisations. I think it will be just a matter of time before we see more stores heading this way,” Mark said.

The store is sympathetic to the Wanaka landscape, with designers tailoring the colours to the local region, with a sand wall colouring being the dominant colour on the store’s exterior.

“We also have not placed any air conditioning units on the roof which would have obstructed the view from a nearby walk way. These are at ground level so the visual appearance is much more appealing. The building is also set back from the main street facing north west so there has been a lot of consideration into making sure the building is sensitive to the local environment,” he said.

The store’s overall design is a collaboration of outstanding ideas from the owners, staff and Mitre 10.

“Martin and Allan have travelled the world looking at stand-out stores and have implemented ideas from these adventures. A lot of people at the store were also committed to creating the vision, and we had a significant amount of time to look at all of the innovations,” he said.

“The support office was also part of the journey with their exceptional guidance and support providing many opportunities, while also allowing us the freedom to trial just outside the norm, including the showrooms customised to the local environment – they were very supportive of this. Support office really worked closely with us on a lot of these innovations,” Mark said.

On-going development

Future plans for the store are all based around making full use of all aspects of the facility and ensuring customers see the innovative store as an exceptional resource to complete all DIY and building projects within the region.

“We want to be the enabler of delivering people’s dreams. This is the key,” Mark said.

“In saying this there are so many new products and services coming onto the market, we want to keep abreast of this and ensure we are at the front end of this as well. As new content becomes available we will continue to add it in. We are also quite seasonal so we will continue to look at how we can push gardening in a cold environment and open up options for winter gardening, including a 24 metre by 12 metre glass house station, almost a conservatory so people can visit and view products all year round.”

General Manager Mark Watson, with store owners Martin Dippie and Allan Dippie. 

“Ultimately, we have a fantastic store and for now we just have to learn to use it really well and be very polished and practiced with the wonderful facility we have,” Mark said.