City celebrates as Coles opens doors
IPSWICH people have voted with their feet - and their wallets and purses - and declared the new Coles superstore a super success.
Thousands of people crowded the CBD supermarket, attacking the 6000sq m of products and hauling them home.
Helping Premier Campbell Newman open the store, Coles managing director Ian McLeod said the former Ipswich Coles was the worst damaged store in 2011.
Mr McLeod said since then Coles spent more than $200 million on new-look stores across Queensland and the refurbishment of Coles Ipswich was "a landmark event for Coles' renewal program".
"At the peak of the floods in 2011 Coles had up to 30 stores across Queensland closed. Our Queensland team invested time, effort and money to get all these stores back up and running, some within days, some within weeks and some within months," he said.
"The store most affected was Ipswich, which was so badly damaged we had to completely demolish it. We were determined for the new store to be bigger and better and after two years of hard work, planning and more than $10 million of investment, it is one of the best stores in Australia - and flood-proof we hope."
During the official opening, he presented the premier with a $200,000 cheque for the Queensland Floods Appeal.
Mr Newman, who was like the Pied Piper to media and fans as he strolled the store, thanked Coles for the donation.
"I'm very excited to be at the opening of Coles' new supermarket in Ipswich. It will be a wonderful boost for the local jobs market," he said. "Coles has clearly learnt from the floods of 2011 and rebuilt in a way that will provide some level of immunity from future catastrophic weather events."
Mr Newman made Lowood woman Lillian Camilleri's day when he agreed to a kiss. She said: "I've finally met Paul Newman."
Mayor Paul Pisasale, who cut the ribbon to officially open the store's doors, said it was symbolic of the future of Ipswich's CBD.
"We didn't just open a Coles; we rebuilt a pathway to the rebirth of the Ipswich CBD," Cr Pisasale said. "The best thing is the 17 indigenous people working there, part of 300 jobs for Ipswich.
"Coles has given us a store that will bring in people from outside the region. It's a world-class store we can all be proud of. On behalf of all residents, and particularly nearby businesses, I want to thank Coles for their strong support of our city in terms of investment and creating jobs."