History of Mitre10

Where Did Mitre10 Come From?

Mitre 10 is the biggest and best known network of home improvement stores in New Zealand. Mitre 10 has been a household name in New Zealand since 1974 when it was introduced by 15 hardware retailers who had watched the success of Mitre 10 in Australia. 

They felt it was time New Zealanders, too, were offered the cost savings achieved when retailers could pool their orders, buy in bulk and promote nationally.
Now there are over 100 stores throughout New Zealand operating under the Mitre 10 banner.

Mitre 10 New Zealand Limited is a co-operative, which means our stores are owned and run by owner operators – so the people that make all the decisions are also the people on the front line listening to you, and it means your purchases in our stores are building business in your community.  Mitre 10 is New Zealand owned and operated and is a totally separate company from the Australian Mitre 10. Mitre 10 has three formats of store meaning we have the right size store for every market. Our vision is to be the best home improvement store in every town.
Over the years we have won awards for excellence in marketing and retailing and been ranked among top international business performers. In other words, we are very much customer-driven. 

In 2008 Mitre 10 was recognised by the Readers Digest Trust Survey as the most trusted retail brand in New Zealand

Mitre 10 New Zealand  is proudly New Zealand owned and operated.
Mitre 10 Readers Digest Most Trusted Retail Brand 2008.

History of Smiths Mitre10

Smiths Mitre10 all started in 1964, when Reg Smith began trading as a coal merchant at 3 Waimairi Road, Upper Riccarton. Over time to compliment his coal offer Reg started to sell numerous garden related products. At this time the company was called Upper Riccarton Hardware and Garden Supplies Ltd.

Over time the range increased and the coal store was soon providing a full hardware offer, doing more business than the coal division. Reg expanded and in 1973 joined together with the Aysons, Edgeware, All Trades, Merivale and Linwood Hardwares to form the Allied Group.

This group was formed in an effort to strengthen purchasing and to share the costs of local marketing. The group worked well, but in 1980 Upper Riccarton had the chance to join Mitre10, along with Edgeware and Aysons.

Mitre10 with its nationwide coverage and large advertising budgets gave Upper Riccarton a great boost. Reg then had the confidence to expand with a second store, Bishopdale, in 1983. Bishopdale was a free trading area that neighboured Upper Riccarton.

Both stores enjoyed good growth and expanded many times.

In 1992 Aysons Mitre10 was purchased and became Beckenham Mitre10.

In 1994 Hornby was purchased its trading area joined Beckenham in the south, Upper Riccarton in the east and Bishopdale in the north. To amalgamate the stores the umbrella name of Smiths Mitre10 was used.

In June 2003 the expansion continued with the purchase of Edgeware Mitre10.

History of Smiths Mitre Bishopdale

Smiths Mitre Bishopdale Bishopdale hardware was originally a Magnet hardware store (a small Fletchers store) on Farrington Avenue. But when their lease ran out in 1983 the owner of the building offered the lease to Reg Smith.

Reg at this stage already owned Upper Riccarton Mitre 10 and could see a fantastic business opportunity. Reg formed Bishopdale Mitre10 and had his younger brother Graeme, managing the store. Under Graeme the store had great success, especially in housewares and china. The store quickly outgrew its premises and after a few years expanded into an adjacent store.

In 1988 the business had yet again outgrown the building and Reg was looking for ways to expand. At this time the Supervalue supermarket at 135 Farrington Ave relocated providing Reg with the perfect opportunity to double the store size with a very short move. On the completion of the move, an opening sale was held, the likes of which Bishopdale had never seen before. It was the most successful opening sale Mitre10 NZ had ever seen, and was only just beaten by Upper Riccarton one month later. In 1989 Graeme left the business to pursue other interests.

In the years 1988 to 1992 Mitre10 Bishopdale had the second to largest turnover in Christchurch (after Upper Riccarton) only losing this honour to other stores who started trading under the Mitre 10 ‘Home & Trade’ umbrella. Through the early 1990’s Bishopdale Mitre10 had the proud record of the highest sales per sq. ft in the Mitre10 group.

So it was excellent timing when in 1998 the old Farmers building next door became available and we were able to triple our size.

Bishopdale is now around 20,000 sq ft (14,000 ground floor sales) a far cry from the 2,000 sq ft store some 15years earlier.

History of Smiths Mitre10 Beckenham

Smiths Mitre Beckenham Beckenham Mitre10 (formerly Aysons Mitre10) was purchased in March 1992, on the retirement of Mr. Trevor Ayson.

Aysons Hardware was started in 1945 by Bruce Ayson, Trevor’s father. Trevor joined the company a couple of years later, at the age of 15. The company then became Ayson & Son.

At first Aysons was part of a long and narrow block of stores on Colombo St. At this stage the main products they sold were paint related. Over time Aysons purchased the surrounding stores which included an old house which served as a storeroom and a garden centre. This was later demolished to become a car park.

During these years Aysons became one of the hardware centres in the south of the town. The garden centre was a significant part of the business, which did some of the best business in Christchurch. In 1973 Aysons Hardware joined with Upper Riccarton, Edgeware, All Trades, Merivale and Linwood hardware to form the Allied Group. This group was formed in an effort to strengthen purchasing and to share the costs of local marketing. In 1980 Aysons had the chance to join the Mitre10 group along with Upper Riccarton, Edgeware and Linwood. In 1989 Aysons upgraded and turned three little stores into one large store, they also added an outdoor garden area.

From the outset we knew space was going to a major problem, and so the search for a new site began. This took nearly 8 years and in July of 2000 we purchased the Sandridge Liquor Store at 260 Colombo Street. The old building was soon demolished and in April of 2001 the new Smiths Mitre 10 Beckenham Mitre10 Home & Trade store opened for trading.

In 2003 Beckenham was named ‘The Mitre10 Store of the Year’ and also ‘The 2003 Hardware Store of the Year’ the top award in New Zealand.

These outstanding events were capped off by the Manager, Matt Clarke receiving the ‘The 2003 New Zealand Hardware, Young Retailer of the Year’.

Beckenham was also a finalist in the Mitre 10 store of the year awards in 2005 and 2008.

History of Edgeware Mitre10

Smiths Mitre Edgeware Edgeware Mitre10 has had an interesting history having had several owners over the past.

Back in 1968 it was part of the Gassons hardware Group, which included Brighton, Barrington Street, Hornby and Ilam (later to become Edgeware). See Hornby history for the Gassons story.

In 1973 Edgeware joined Aysons, All Trades, Merivale, Linwood and Upper Riccarton Hardware to form the Allied group. This group worked fine, but in 1980 Edgeware had the chance to join the Mitre10 group along with Aysons and Upper Riccarton.

In the early 80’s the business was over the road from its present location and sold a wide variety of products including tropical fish.

The business was sold in the mid 80’s to Brian Langley who shifted the business to its present site on Edgeware Road. Brian was an aggressive retailer and quickly grew the turnover.

The business was then sold to Alistair and Anne Cowan and then resold to Max Horne some three years later.

Smiths Mitre10 purchased the business in June 2003 and is enjoying good sales growth in a competitive market.

History of Upper Riccarton Mitre10

Smiths Mitre Riccarton Upper Riccarton was started in 1964 by Reg Smith as a coal yard on the corner of Waimairi and Riccarton Roads in an old grain store. The business was very hard work, but gave Reg the chance to start selling extras related to coal, shovels etc.

Over time the range increased and the coal store soon provided a full hardware offering, generating more business than the coal division. Reg realizing that he would need to expand someday, slowly bought up all the land on Waimairi Rd opposite the Bush Inn. This turned out to be a very good move as Smith & Brown, a large North Island furniture chain wanted to put a large store on the corner. As part of the sales agreement they agreed to build an additional building on the side for Reg. While construction was taking place Upper Riccarton hardware traded out of a converted house for four months. At this stage the coal side of the business was sold off.

In 1973 Upper Riccarton hardware joined with Aysons, Edgeware, All Trades, Merivale and Linwood Hardware to form the Allied Group. The group worked fine but in 1980 Upper Riccarton had the opportunity to join the Mitre10 group along with Edgeware and Aysons.

The store at 3 Waimairi Rd went from strength to strength. Increasing the size of the original store with 4 different extensions, the last one being in 1988 when the store doubled in size. To celebrate the occasion we held an opening sale which was a the biggest that Mitre 10 had seen.

In August 1994(one month after purchasing Hornby) we expanded once more, moving into the old Countdown building at the corner of Brake & Leslie Streets this allowed us to double our size to 14,000sq ft and become a new style Mitre10 ‘Home & Trade’ store, which stocked a range of building supply products.

History of Hornby Mitre10

Smiths Mitre10 Hornby Hornby Mitre10, originally called Gassons Hardware, was started by a man called Noel Jones.

Starting the business in the early 1960’s with L.X. Construction Ltd, a joinery shop in Gasson Street Sydenham. Noel and his brother were enterprising young men and soon they moved to a new workshop in Walker Street. This new workshop was called Gassons Glass Ltd, named after Gasson Street. In the front section of the shop they sold wallpaper and paint. This greatly upset their competitors who at the time attempted to run them out of business.

By 1968 they had set up a chain of Gassons stores at Brighton(sold as soon as it was set up), Barrington St, Ilam (later to become Edgeware Mitre10) and the most successful, Hornby.

In the mid 1970’s the Hornby store became the first Mitre10 in Christchurch and was renamed ‘Hornby Mitre10’.

Noel sold the Hornby Store to Steve Nicholson in the early 1980’s which at this stage was trading within the Hornby mall. Steve in turn sold the business to Tony Carter in 1988, who had the foresight to shift out of the mall into a 14,000 sq ft store at 23 Carmen Road, with an increased range of building products in 1991.

Tony was a very able business man, and was soon made Chairman of Mitre10 New Zealand. Although in 1994 he was forced to sell Hornby, as he had a conflict of interest when he was appointed Chief Executive of Foodstuffs (S.I) Ltd.

We bought Hornby July 1st 1994 and realizing that the Hornby area had great potential, great efforts were mad to try and expand the business. In December 1999 Hornby was relocated to 350 Main South Road, which was, at the time the largest Mitre10 store in the South Island.

Hornby was ahead of its time and in 2001 was named the ‘Mitre10 Store of the Year’.

The larger store concept traded extremely well and allowed us to expand into the builders market. It soon became clear we would have to increase the size of the store yet again.

This occurred in July 2004 when Hornby became the South Islands first Mitre10 Mega. This involved doubling the size of the store and being re-branded in the colours of orange and black.