Date: May 25 2012
A membership boom across Australia and the region has helped North American supermarket warehouse group Costco report a 9 per cent rise in its new membership sign-ups, with key executives of the business in Australia still to discover and develop new sites.
Speaking to analysts overnight on the release of its third-quarter earnings performance, Costco chief financial officer Richard Galanti said the Asia Pacific region was driving membership renewals for the business with its international store network star performers within the group.
"Our new member sign-ups in Q3 were quite strong, up 9 per cent on a year-over-year basis, largely due to the strong international openings this past year in Asia and Australia," Mr Galanti said.
Costco has three warehouse stores in Australia (Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra) and is working on developing new sites in Queensland and other cities as it joins the supermarket war with Coles and Woolworths.
He said membership renewals were extremely strong in its new international markets.
"I mean, the numbers are just chart-popping in some of these Asian and Australian countries."
Mr Galanti said Costco had ended the quarter with 36.4 million member households versus 36 million at the end of the second quarter. Including spouse cards, total cardholders stood at 66.5 million, up from 65.7 million 12 weeks earlier.
It is believed more than 100,000 Australians are now members of Costco.
Mr Galanti said key Costco executives were in Australia looking at new sites and were excited about the opportunities.
"The things that [they] mentioned and that I've noticed as well is a desire to get a few more openings done more quickly.
"There's three Australian locations already open, and I'm sure that'll be ramped up given that we're looking at a lot of sites. The same thing with Asia."
Costco's headquarters in the United States has committed $140 million in funding towards its Australian operations.
Shoppers pay an annual membership fee of up to $60 to shop at Costco, which specialises in household goods and food in bulk, whitegoods, furniture, alcohol and luxury items.
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