Grocery fight goes king-sized

On countdown: Michelle and Anthony King are opening Pak'nSave Queenstown on November 3

A $30 million Queenstown supermarket opening next week is so big that customers will be given maps to show them around.

Pak’nSave Queenstown, opening beside Mitre 10 Mega on the Frankton Flats, has a ground floor of 5765 square metres, 27 checkouts – 16 full-service and 11 self-service – and 348 carparks along with unmanned fuel pumps.

It dwarfs the resort’s other full-service supermarkets – New World, FreshChoice and Countdown.

Owner-operators Michelle and Anthony King, who formerly had New World Wakatipu, believe its design will be attractive to customers – it’s the fourth new-format Pak’nSave in the South Island.

But they’ve no doubt their pricing will be the store’s biggest selling point.

“Our policy is New Zealand’s lowest food prices and that’s what Queenstown shoppers will finally get,” Michelle says.

Anthony adds that there might be some products which will be cheaper elsewhere when they’re on special but he’s confident a shopper’s “total basket” will always beat competitors for price.

For this reason, the couple are confident they’ll be the resort’s first supermarket to draw customers from out of town – the closest Pak’nSaves are in Invercargill and Dunedin.

As the name suggests, savings are made by customers packing their own groceries.

But economies are also gained by the store’s generous layout – cages on top of the racks store pallets of product bought at bulk rates.

Anthony: “When the store closes at night, forklifts get the pallets up and down.

“The Pak’nSave model is called a ‘bulk food warehouse’.”

The Kings, however, says they’ve not sacrificed range for the sake of pricing.

“The Pak’nSave group has what’s called a core range and then we have what we think this area needs on top of that,” Anthony says.

“So we’ve really put a big focus on international foods, gluten-free goods and natural/organic, and obviously in the wine area the Central Otago wines are a must.”

The Kings are employing about 150 staff and as of last week had hired about 125.

Michelle: “I think our [pay] rates probably sit higher than a lot of our city counterparts.”

Although many have come from out of town, Anthony says he’s not aware of any staff struggling to find digs.

At least two staff will commute from Cromwell.

Michelle and Anthony owned New World Wakatipu for the past three years and worked there for more than 10 years – Michelle’s parents Mary and John Thompson were its original owners.

She explains their motivation for leaving: “A big part of it was the challenge and the opportunity to start a new store, build up a team and the appeal of bringing something that is new to Queenstown.”

Anthony: “A big benefit of the Pak’nSave, New World and Four Square model is that each store has an owner-operator who’s passionate about that store.”

The couple say they’ll enjoy helping out on the floor or at the checkout.

In the lead-up to November 3, Michelle’s parents, who opened Frankton’s original Four Square in 1982, have also been lending a hand.