Egg activists hatch protest for Ponsonby's Countdown opening

The 4000sq m supermarket is part of the 1.3ha Cider development formerly known as 'Sohole.' With special feature audio.

A ribbon-cutting cabinet minister Nikki Kaye wasn’t rattled by noisy animal rights protesters as she allowed a hundred shoppers to enter Countdown’s latest supermarket in central Auckland.

Progressive Enterprises paid $17 million for Ponsonby’s “Sohole,” the legacy of a failed property development called Soho Square, and spent $120 million turning it into a shopping, car parking and multi-storied apartment building complex that covers a 1.3ha site.

When fully completed, 1200 people will be working in the building and another 1000 in the Vinegar Lane area (the site was once the DYV vinegar factory.)

Countdown managing director Dave Chambers says the 4000sq m supermarket is tailored to cater for the needs of upmarket customers and an inner-city community. It has an instore pharmacy and a wine department that sells Penfolds Grange for $1200 a bottle.

The store has 2200 more items than a normal Countdown, many of them from New Zealand artisan food and beverage suppliers, such as Rocket Kitchen and boutique wineries.

Some 450 of the extra items are in the health foods section alone, while there's a fuller range of gluten-free and organic products.

Mr Chambers says this major project doesn't mean Countdown owner Progressive Enterprises is moving into large-scale property development.

"Oyster Group is buying the site and it's our preference to work with others right around the country. Where that isn't possible we have the capacity and will to do it ourselves."

Before the opening, Ms Kaye, who is the local elected MP, addressed staff and school children while outside members of SAFE demanded Countdown to stop selling cage eggs.

Follow NBR on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram for the latest news and free on-demand audio from NBR Radio.