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07/03/18

Flagship IGA store of the future coming to Sovereign Hills

Five years after taking the helm of the iconic Hastings Co-operative, chief executive officer Allan Gordon is laying the groundwork for his biggest project yet.

The Co-op is preparing to add a fourth IGA store to the family, by building a flagship store in the heart of the Sovereign Hills community.

“We’d like to create something futuristic,” revealed Mr Gordon from the company’s Wauchope headquarters.

“Somewhere people will want to come, visit and shop. We’re investigating a number of new ideas that have probably not been seen in a supermarket before and I think the end result will be an amazing experience for shoppers and staff alike.

“Incorporated into the supermarket complex will also be a full-service hardware store catering specifically to the DIY market as well as an intensive range of landscape, nursery and garden supplies. And I should mention that we will also have an extensively stocked bottle-shop. We’re currently in the process of design and have been busily getting feedback on what shoppers really want from a supermarket of the 21st Century.

The multi-million-dollar fit-out will be unlike anything Hastings IGA customers have experienced.

“We want to serve the people for the next 10 to15 years; their shopping habits are changing. If we want to do it, we’ve got to do it well and we’ve got to invest in the design,” continued Mr Gordon.

“If you look at the modern plans of supermarkets, they don’t have high shelving anymore, it’s more eye-level, so we’re looking at that and the entrance, so when you enter the store you will feel like you’re entering an oasis. That’s the vision.

“We want people to be able to walk in and smell the fresh bakery, so we’re looking at this stage at providing artisan-type breads, sourdoughs and pastries. A strong fresh produce section, deli, seafood, ready-meals.”

Locally owned and operated, the Co-op has a proud 101-year history in the Hastings region. From humble beginnings as a dairy factory, the Co-op has evolved into a diverse retailer employing 280 people across seven business units, including fuel, supermarkets, liquor and department stores, hardware and rural supplies, cafes and condiment manufacturing.

Not only is the Co-op committed to creating a unique supermarket experience at Sovereign Hills, Mr Gordon explained they’re committed to starting the process now, and not in 10 years when the community will reach its potential of up to 2,500 homes and 10,000 residents.

“Our existing customers know the extent of the diverse and wide range of products that we stock, and if a customer has a specific need, then our staff will endeavour to find the product for them. We are also well known for the level of service that our staff provide and it is these two things that we will bring to the Sovereign Hills community that make us different to the competition.”

The new supermarket will generate approximately 100 new jobs, and many more down the line by delivering on the Co-op’s commitment to supporting local producers.

“Not only are we supporting local people with employment, but also the local farmers, the local manufacturers, the local bread makers in terms of developing their products and giving them an avenue for delivery into a supermarket. When you come into our store you will probably find local lettuce, local tomatoes, you’ll find local muesli items, the produce in our Bago Bluff range is all local, and it’s produced locally.”

The Co-op is also looking forward to creating a juice bar at the entrance of the new supermarket.

“It will all be fresh produce straight out of the supermarket. Hopefully we’ll have grab-and-go coffees and some of the ready-to-go deli items like cut sandwiches.”

The Co-op’s rewards program, which allows customers to redeem their points across any of their existing 15 businesses, will extend to the Sovereign Hills IGA store, which will provide yet another opportunity to expand upon the Co-op’s community goodwill program.

“I don’t think there’s an organisation which hasn’t been touched by the Co-op somewhere along the line. From the local hospital, palliative care, community groups, the Bonny Hills Surf Life Saving Club, football clubs, the purchase of sporting goods, you name it.”

The Sovereign Hills IGA supermarket will play a crucial role in Stage 1 of the Sovereign Hills town centre development, which will be located on the corner of Main Street and John Oxley Drive.

The 4,500sq.m convenience centre is the initial stage of 25,000sq.m of retail, commercial and community space, providing amenity to the fast-growing immediate and surrounding communities. Stage 1 is anticipated to open for business at the end of 2019.

Right now, the Co-op is focused on investigating how to deliver the best customer experience possible, and a true supermarket of the future.

“If you look at the way people shop these days, they’re not doing the $300 grocery shop, they’re shopping every day fresh, they don’t want to buy their apples once a week, they want to buy them daily, they want to buy their meat daily, if we can give them the experience that says ‘I want to go there, it’s got a great atmosphere and they have what I want’ then they will come back again and again.”