Melbourne’s not enough for Costco; but you can’t shop without joining

By Martin Vedris

MELBOURNE, VIC: It’s been a busy week but a relief for Patrick Noone. As managing director of Costco Wholesale Australia, his Docklands store opening this week felt like the rains after a drought.

“We’ve had a wonderful reception,” said Noone, regarding the official Docklands Costco Wholesale opening on Monday.

“We had several thousand people come through in the first hour or so and it was really quite wonderful to see,” he said. “Especially after we spent so much time and energy working on this facility.

“They’re coming in and appreciating the value that we’re offering and they’re spending a lot of money with us, which is terrific.”

The Costco model is officially described by Costco as an “exclusive wholesale cash and carry membership warehouse club”. There are currently two types of membership for Australians: Business Membership for $55 annually and Gold Star Membership for individuals at $60 annually.

And while they let consumers into the store to look around in this first week, from next week it’s a closed store policy.

“As we go forward you have to be a member to come into the warehouse or the shop,” said Noone. “We were registering people at the front door, but we’ve also already got tens of thousands of members in Australia.”

Noone was conservative about the potential for savings at Costco.

“The savings depend on the item, the day of the week and the competition, but I’m pretty confident that if you shop a few times at Costco you will save your membership fee,” he said.

In terms of suppliers, Noone said he’s keen to talk with any suppliers not yet supplying Costco.

“The ones [suppliers] we have on board are the ones who believed in the concept from the start, the volume we’re doing is making them pretty happy,” he said. “There are other suppliers out there that didn’t jump on board right away that we’re willing to talk to and develop a relationship with.”

Sydney is next the Costco radar and the company has a planning application for a massive development in Sydney’s consumer electronics retail heartland of Auburn.

“We’d love to be in Sydney next year but we haven’t made any commitments to any other states at this point,” said Noone.

“We have a planning application that we’re working on in the Western Suburbs, in Auburn but it’s not a 100 per cent done deal yet so we’ll continue to work on that,” he said, referring to the site at 15-21 Parramatta Road Auburn that will also house the company’s Australian head office.

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