US discount giant Costco Wholesale Corp is eyeing up New Zealand, according to reports in The Independent and the NZ Herald.

Three top executives from the multi-billion-dollar discount retailer have reportedly visited Auckland to investigate potential commercial sites there. They had also been viewing sites in Sydney and Melbourne.

Costco is the largest wholesale “club” membership operator in the US, with more than 400 stores where shoppers who have paid a US$45 ($83) annual membership fee, can buy in bulk. The company has expanded in the US to include service stations, photo shops, pharmacies, travel agencies, hearing aid centres, bakeries, fresh meat centres and furniture stores as adjuncts to its discount stores. It also has a profitable online business. Ranked 44th in size in the US, Costco has sales of over US$36 billion ($66 billion).

Through their vast bulk-buying capability, Costco’s mega-stores usually offer cheaper prices than regular retail outlets.

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