Countdown Alexandra

April 6, 2023

Breen Construction’s portfolio of commercial projects continues to grow, with the new expansive Countdown Alexandra supermarket completed in November 2022.


The $19 million development for CD Alexandra Ltd - a group of investors from Alexandra, Wanaka, Queenstown and Christchurch, who own the land and buildings and lease back to the Woolworths Group Ltd, first started in 2011.


Old housing stock had to be removed to make way for the new development before Breen Construction could make a start on the 3000sqm building - which has completely transformed the site, and greatly improved the image of the Central Otago town.


A total of 53 Breen Construction staff worked on this project at various stages of the development. Project Manager Francois Swarts said the complexity of the build made it a challenge from the start - located in a residential area with limited access to some areas of the building and having to complete major construction tasks close to adjoining boundaries.


“We had to think about ways to construct the building and operations to follow, so we built it from the rear to the front - effectively building ourselves out of the building to some extent.”


The development was designed in a way to blend in with the residential area by adding selective natural colours to some faces of the building, false louvre screens to replicate windows, landscaping, and gabion basket fencing were installed to give the large commercial building enhanced street appeal.


The brand new store has created 50 new jobs in the district, and Countdown’s Director of Property, Matt Grainger, says they are thrilled to be the newest member of the Alexandra community and to be providing new opportunities for the wider Central Otago region.


“Our state-of-the-art Countdown Alexandra store offers a fresh, modern shopping experience that’s been purpose-built for our local customers. From our stunning bakery to our fresh produce section and dedicated food-to-go areas, our new store offers customers the best of a Countdown experience in a beautiful shopping environment.”


New Countdown stores have also opened in Wanaka and Balclutha in the past year, and the Invercargill store has been upgraded as well.


The Alexandra store has a number of sustainability features including electronic shelf labels to reduce paper use, EV chargers for customers, a trans critical refrigeration system, and doors on milk and dairy fridges to help reduce energy use.


Francois said it was a huge team effort from Breen Construction, and there were many meetings with managers to help with the execution of resourcing the project correctly. At critical times during the build, workers were called upon from other projects, teams worked late into the evenings and often worked six-day weeks. They were supported by some local contractors who helped in some instances.  


Francois said, “there were many milestones to reach along the way, starting with the establishment of the site to comply with resource consent requirements, which included the replacement of the main sewer line located underneath the foundations equipped with a longevity flushing tank.


“An acoustic fence also had to be built around the perimeter of the site - initially reducing construction noise and in effect reducing supermarket operation noise for the residents in the future, bordering on two sides of the large development (north and west), and a motel to the east.”


With the ongoing labour and material shortages that the entire construction industry is currently battling with, Breen Construction had to be strategic about ordering the building material in advance, and scheduling subcontractors with as many lead-times as possible, all thanks to the global trading restrictions caused byCovid-19.


Closer to the end of the build Breen had multiple tasks at hand that had to be completed simultaneously. Kerbing, carpark asphalt, concrete pedestrian access footpaths at the shopfront entrance and façade works still in progress at the time, had to be sequenced and tactically thought about to prevent any delays.


“We were aware that this was going to be the biggest hurdle of the project due to the way operations were sequenced, and it was a massive undertaking for us,” Francois said.


Once the original site was cleared and ready for development it was blessed by local iwi, and again at a special dawn manaakitanga ceremony before the opening on November 17, 2022.


“During the last month of the build, you could see the supermarket taking shape and feel the excitement in town. Being a part of the Breen team who delivered a project that contributed to the excitement of the community is pretty special,” he said.


As well as offering the small town another large supermarket option and injecting new business into the local economy, there have been other community payoffs as well.


To help reduce food waste, Countdown Alexandra is partnering with the local Salvation Army and KiwiHarvest to divert food that can’t be sold, but is still good enough to eat, for Kiwis in need. 


Woolworths Group Ltd aims to revolutionise its business to help meet ambitious new sustainability goals it has set to achieve by 2025, and all new supermarkets are aiming for a 4-Green Star rating.


Countdown Alexandra will be one of only four Green Star rated supermarkets around the country once it achieves this sustainability status.


Client Representative –Perigon (Tony Dawson)

Architect: ASC Architects

Project Manager - Francois Swarts

Project Co-ordinator - Nicole Stevenson

Site Manager: Rick Steele

Foreman: Tim Marshall

Quantity Surveyors: Gareth Pritchard, Craig Masters

Breen Carpenters /Breen staff involved in project:

McGregor, Andrew

Dewe, Bryce

Feinerman, Carl

Magennity, Chris

Bailey, Colin

Jefcoate, Fred

McDowall, Greg

Lambeth, Chris

Read, Kevyn

Brown, Sam

Carey, Burr

Jenkins, Ben

Read, Andrew

Gazeley, Ben

Gill, Blaine

Butcher, Brett

Smit, Cameron


Jeffery, Denzil 

Golden, Jeff

Morrell, Dion

Creamer, Gian

Orchard, Jesse

Miles, John

Nailer, John 

Gilmour, Kerry

Cormack, Marc

Williams, Millie

Bell, Neville

Valli, Richard

Menzies, Roly

McKenzie, Rodney

Botting, Ryan

Kerr, Reuben

Ryan, Shane

Lindsay, Rory

Clark, Jackson

Thomas Green

Ross, Alec

Windsor, Perry

Haack, Jorn

Bryant, Steve

Cradock, Pete

Clunie, Isaac

Scarlet, Liam

Kinzett, Mason

Nolan, Gerard

Written by MissWordsmith - Aimee Wilson

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