Costco meets local SME suppliers as it prepares for Australian launch

More than 140 Melbourne-based SMEs attended a meeting with officials from retail giant Costco in Melbourne yesterday to learn more about the group’s plans for Australia, and how they can break into the retailer’s supply chain.


The delegates heard details of Costco’s first store in Melbourne, which the group expects to open in July. Costco is looking to build relationships with local suppliers to help stock the first outlet.

Costco uses a warehouse-based retail environment, and sells food, clothing, electronics and other products in bulk at cheaper prices than other retailers. Customers must pay an annual fee of $60 to gain access to the store’s discounted products.

Costco Australia managing director Patrick Noone says the meetings went well and the company walked away with a swag of business cards from SMEs.

“We’ve had a couple of meetings now where we introduced the Costco model to various venders and small business and medium businesses, which have been successful in the past six months.

“There are also a lot of really good SMEs in Australia, thousands of them, and we find it difficult to track everyone down. When we go to a new market we hold seminars to give a brief introduction to show what the warehouse is like. Hopefully we exchange business cards, which we’ve done this time,” Noone says.

“We want to sell unique quality brand products and talk to suppliers and get those contacts. It’s very exciting, we’ve done three meetings, one in Sydney and two in Melbourne. This one was arranged by the Australian Institute of Marketing. It’s great to meet so many businesses who want to get involved.”

Noone also says that the company is confident that the store will be a success when it finally opens, and says expansion remains a major goal. “We hope to open in Sydney in 2010 and have more announcements, obviously if we’re successful that is.”

Noone says the timing couldn’t be better for Costco’s model, with the economic downturn forcing customers to look for bargains.

“We sell goods and services at a value price. I expect that to be a great model for the current environment.”


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