The Warehouse, founded by Stephen Tindall in 1982, is the largest department store retailer operating in New Zealand. The Warehouse is largely a discount store similar to Wal-Mart in the United States, however The Warehouse sells far more generic brand merchandise than other discount or department stores. The company also formerly had operations in Australia, which were sold to Australian Discount Retail. For the fiscal year ending October, 2005, The Warehouse reported net income of NZ $71.9 million on NZ $2.224 billion of sales revenue (3.6% profit margin).
As of 2005, the company had 253 stores throughout New Zealand and Australia along with more than 6 distribution centres in total. On November 24, 2005, The Warehouse announced that was selling its Australian operation for AUS$98 million ($99 million NZD).
Colloquial names for the company's stores include "The Red Shed", "WareWhare" (pronounced Wah-ree-fah-ree, whare is Maori word for house) and "Wuddy Fuddy".
In addition to its own operations, it also owns various brand names that are located within the stores. It has gardening facilities located in Auckland, Hamilton and in Christchurch. Along with its gardening brand Just, it also operates nearly 30 "in-company" brands.
The Warehouse is publicly traded on the New Zealand Stock Exchange under symbol TWH.
Stephen Tindall announced in September 2006 that he planned to buy out other shareholders and take the company private, though this intention has been subsequently withdrawn following significant interest from competitors Woolworths Australia (who own Progressive Enterprises in New Zealand, New Zealand's second-largest supermarket chain) and Foodstuffs Co-operative. Both of these major competitors have recently acquired approximately 10% of the Warehouse's ordinary shares each and both have applications currently before the New Zealand Commerce Commission for clearance to potentially acquire up to 100% of The Warehouse Group.
With the launch of 'The Warehouse Extra' at Sylvia Park, The Warehouse expanded into the grocery business (see 'Hypermarkets' section below), though it is unclear whether this enterprise will eventually be extended to a substantial number of other stores.
The company operates a comprehensive returns policy. A "money back guarantee" policy (returns accepted for any reason) is available on most products, excluding underwear, pre-recorded media and perishable products. Some industry observers believe this is why The Warehouse has been so popular in New Zealand. This concept has not worked in Australia, particularly due to the fact that there are many other more well-established department store chains (K-Mart, Target, Big W). Australian stores no longer advertise a "money back guarantee." In late 2005, The Warehouse Group announced its decision to close its Australian arm.
The Warehouse has always been a popular target for shoplifters; however, since the mid-nineties, security has been increased, including the introduction of security guards, surveillance cameras and plain-clothes security professionals.
The Warehouse has also been known to cause the closure of other local businesses in any area in which a new Warehouse store is opened. It was once stated that for every job The Warehouse creates, another nine are taken from other businesses. The most notable closures of businesses include the Deka Department stores and some Para Rubber stores in some cities. More recently The Warehouse was blamed for the closure of Sounds Music stores as well as illegal downloading of music. The management of The Warehouse dispute these claims.
In May 2007 to mark the 25th Birthday of The Warehouse the company released 13,000 balloons from Dairy Flat. This sparked concerns from the Department of Conservation and other environmentalists as the balloons have been known to endanger wildlife.
In December 2007 a Whangarei Women lost her job at The Warehouse after leaving the comment on her Bebo page saying "work sux" and that having to work to midnight was "gay like the mangagement.
In 2003 the company built a $33 million (AUD) distribution centre in Queensland, to service the country. Later that year, the company introduced its Tui and Tolas inventory management systems from New Zealand.
As of 2005, the Australian arm was still under-performing. Sales for 2005 were at $518.8 million (AUD), compared with $567.3 million (AUD) in 2004. The Warehouse Group Limited announced in November, 2005 that it had entered into a conditional agreement to sell The Warehouse Australia business to Catalyst Investment Managers and its parent PPM Capital Limited (together, Catalyst) and Castle Harlan Australian Mezzanine Partners, acting on behalf of the CHAMP I and CHAMP II funds (CHAMP) for A$92 million (NZ$99m). The new entity was known as Australian Discount Retail (ADR). As part of the transaction, The Warehouse Australia's Sydney Head Office would be sold to Investec Wentworth Specialised Property Trust. While the effective date for the transaction was to be 27 November 2005, completion of the sale was expected in early 2006 and was subject to normal regulatory approvals.
At its formation ADR also purchased the discount store operations of Miller's Retail, including the Go-Lo, Crazy Clark's and Chickenfeed (Tasmania) chains. There were 335 such stores at the time of sale.
According to The Warehouse Australia's website, Australian Warehouse stores will soon be renamed Sam's Warehouse.
In June 2006, "The Warehouse Extra" opened at Sylvia Park, Auckland. It was the first of a planned chain of hypermarkets, at 135,000 sq ft (12,500 sq m). In a similar fashion to the Wal-Mart Supercenters of the United States, the foodmarket department aisles are placed at a perpendicular angle to the general merchandise. It is the first store to feature an in-store bakery, pharmacy and cafe, and instead of the usual tall industrial shelving, a more conventional store shelving system has been used. The store also features a lot less red than in traditional stores, but the familiar concrete floor still exists. The next branch of "The Warehouse Extra" was in Whangarei. In October 2008 The Warehouse announced that they will be canning "The Warehouse Extra" format with stores reverting to the more traditional style of store coming months.
However, the company has not been without success. It is New Zealand's largest retailer and one of the largest companies in New Zealand in terms of annual revenue. It is well ahead of its nearest compeititors Briscoes and Farmers in terms of sales. Various different explanations have been offered for this:
The Warehouse operates 2 major formats under 3 different divisions:
|Ian Morrice||Group Chief Executive Officer|
Warehouse corporate sites