21 April, 2022

Dawn of new retail era in Esk

RETAIL shopping in Esk is about to take a huge leap forward, with the opening of the town’s first IGA supermarket.

An artist's impression of the new IGA supermarket in Esk
An artist's impression of the new IGA supermarket in Esk

Taking the place of the faithful ‘Friendly Grocer’ supermarket, the all-new IGA is set to modernise shopping in the town.

Tania Lukritz, General Manager of the Esk Co-op, operators of the supermarkets, said the new store is a bold new face for the Co-Op.

“This is a big move, we see Esk changing and growing, and we know the retail face has to change and keep pace, to meet the needs of the community,” Mrs Lukritz said.

“We are seeing plenty of people moving to the area, and they bring with them an expectation of better retail access, and it is up to us to ensure we meet that demand.”

As part of that plan, Mrs Lukritz said the Co-Op board decided to build a new store, rather than trying to facelift the existing shopfront.

“We could have done that, but by going down this path, we are able to build something new and fresh, incorporating the latest ideas and technologies.

“The new store creates

something that is not just futureproofed, but also flood and disaster-proofed, people will have the ability to restock their pantries, even during disasters, this store will work, not just now, but in the years to come.”

The new store, built at the rear of the current Friendly Grocer, provides 1,200m2 of building space, with a massive 900m2 of retail space.

“This new layout allows us to include so much more than we currently have, there is a fresh meat section, something we haven’t had before.

“Our fridge and freezer units actually wrap around the store on two sides, including our

fresh milk and dairy sections, so we are able to expand the product offering to the customers.”

With greater demand for ‘delicacy’ items, particularly from the day trip and overnight tourism markets, Mrs Lukritz said the expanded store opened the door to meeting their needs.

“Retail has changed, yes, our core is still about looking after the needs of our regular customers, but it is also vital to recognise the changing tastes of the community, people don’t just want the same as they did 20, 30 or 40 years ago.”

One of those changes includes the addition of an expanded delicatessen,

complete with a self-serve coffee bar, allowing customers to pick up specialty cheeses, cold meats and other picnic items.

“Whether it is our 6-day- a-week regular, or a first time visitor, they will get access to what they want, when they want it.”

Construction of the $2million project started in January 2021, and despite the challenges of an ongoing pandemic and delays in receiving equipment, Mrs Lukritz said the store was worth the wait.

“We have employed more than 20 contractors, with as many as possible coming from our area, we did have to use

some specialists, but I think the wait has been worth it.

“The store includes the latest in lighting and refrigeration technology, to reduce our impact as well as our operating costs.”

The new store is expected to create an extra 10 positions, including a mix of full-time, part-time and casual vacancies.

“We are part of this town, so it is important that everything we do has a positive impact, whether it is job creation or offering people something new in their retail experience.”

While there is plenty of new, latest generation, technology in the store, Mrs Lukritz said there is also a tribute to the original

“We were able to save the

original pressed metal ceiling, and repurposed a section of it to welcome customers into the new store.

“In the old store, Doreen Miller, who ran the haberdashery section, was asked to choose the colour scheme, and she chose Light Apricot for the walls and Dark Apricot for the ceiling, so we wanted to preserve that heritage, and now we have a section we restored installed in the airlock ceiling as you enter the store.”

The new IGA supermarket will open its doors at 7am on Wednesday April 27.

“We are having a ‘soft’ opening on April 27, to give everyone a chance to come and check it out, followed by our full opening on the 28th.

Entry to the new store will be through Hassall Street, with on-street parking also available.

“We apologise for the initial inconvenience, until the carpark is complete, that will take a couple of months, but it will offer an additional 36 car spaces, adding to the convenience of visiting the new IGA.”


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