New Foodstuffs distribution centre in Māngere – enough toilet paper for 100 supermarkets

Toilet paper for more than 100 supermarkets is being amassed at a new $250 million distribution centre in Māngere.

Chris Quin, Foodstuffs North Island chief executive, showed off the new 7.7ha distribution store, built by Auckland Airport and on airport land, leased to the supermarket giant which has Pak’nSave, New World, Gilmours, Four Square, LIquorLand, Shoprite and Write Price.

The new centre will supply groceries and goods for more than 100 of Foodstuffs North Island’s 153 supermarkets in the most densely populated area of New Zealand.

The 77,500sq m distribution centre works 24 hours a day, six days a week and was built beside the new 9000sq m head office in a project expert say could be worth around $250m. Neither Foodstuffs nor the airport has put a value on the project but the buildings alone are estimated at around $160m.

During lockdowns, supermarket customers cleaned shelves out of sugar, flour and toilet paper.

Quin pointed out the toilet paper, delivered to the site at 35 The Landing Dr near the airport – enough for all the Foodstuffs customers.

“And there it is,” he says from the wheel of an eight-seater electric golf cart, gesticulating left towards wrapped pallets delivered to the warehouse which replaced eight properties, including one in Rotorua.

“It’s the thing that most worries humans. It’s not that there’s anything particularly about Covid that means people need it more,” Quin says, driving past the two-level truck drivers’ amenities where they wait while trucks are being unloaded.

He acknowledged people’s curiosity about toilet paper, now in the ambient distribution centre before trucks deliver it to supermarkets.

Quin said trucks could unload from their sides or the rear and one of the biggest problems in such a vast distribution centre was small – birds.

Foodstuffs doesn’t want birds nesting in its DC roof area or defecating on its goods before they go to supermarkets.

So the centre has been designed for trucks to arrive and leave the building via roller doors with the doors being open for as short a time as possible -“only a few seconds”, Quin said.

He also showed how cigarettes and cigars are stored in a high-security caged area within the DC, with highly restricted access.

Jonathan Box, supply chain general manager, said: “This is the biggest warehouse in New Zealand.”

After nearly six decades on Roma Rd, Mt Roskill, the business moved in the last few weeks to the new purpose-built facility in Manukau, called Foodstuffs Landing Drive.

It is not only New Zealand’s largest distribution centre but also New Zealand’s largest building in terms of its footprint. It also has the most rooftop solar panels: 2915, able to generate all electricity needed for the new 9000sq m headquarters.

“It’s been key to our plans for three years so it’s really exciting to see our new home come to fruition,” Quin said.

Foodstuffs North Island celebrates its centenary next year so Quin said having the new integrated campus built and leasing it was a big step forward.

“As we saw in 2020, keeping our team and customers safe and products on the shelf for New Zealanders is key,” he said, obliquely referring to the pandemic and supermarkets remaining open during alert level 4.

The campus took just over 20 months to build and despite the five-week alert level 4 lockdown when construction stopped, both buildings were handed over for fit-out three months early, Quin said.

Hawkins built the 5 green star support centre and Macrennie Auckland built the new distribution centre, the size of eight rugby fields.

If they stood shoulder to shoulder, around a third of Auckland’s population could fit inside the DC, Foodstuffs said.

The centre can hold up to 80,000 pallets of grocery goods and has this country’s largest bank of semi-automated satellite racking, holding 14,700 pallets and using remote-controlled pallet shuttles.

Products will be picked off the DC shelves in a new way: by store brand and with the heaviest goods travelling the least distance, reducing travel to Pak’nSave and Four Square orders by 40 per cent.

Wendy Hammonds, general manager of people and culture, said Foodstuffs Landing Drive also has its own events centre, a purpose-built flexible space for up to 300 people.

This week, North Island New World owners gathered at the HQ and used that new event space.

“We’re a huge whānau with more than 300 co-operative members employing more than 22,000 people. We regularly get together,” she said.

Charlie Cai has been appointed hospitality manager at the new campus and is also responsible for the innovation hub where suppliers will be able to demonstrate their new products using a special new purpose-designed demonstration kitchen.

Mark Thomson, airport property general manager, said the warehouse and office development kick-started a 30-year relationship between the airport and Foodstuffs.

“From the very outset of discussions, Foodstuffs had a very clear vision of what it wanted to achieve from its real estate platform not only from a functional perspective but also in terms of creating an exceptional environment for its staff.

“This vision permeated throughout the design and execution phases and is fully aligned with our vision for The Landing Business Park which is to create a place that captures the very best of New Zealand in terms of design and efficiency, and public amenity, Tomson said.

The airport has a commercial property portfolio valued at $2.4b. Property revenue increased 2.4 per cent to $47m in the first half of the 2021 financial year.

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