It had sat empty for a long time but a gap in Alexandra’s retail landscape has been filled.

Its windows were covered in black polythene for weeks until last week, when the central Alexandra building was unwrapped to reveal its new life as minimarket Alexandra Discounter.

It opened for business without fanfare in the former Mitre 10 building in Centennial Ave.

The store of more than 300sqm offers a full range of groceries and is the latest addition to owner Winnie Tu’s business portfolio. She operates similar cut-price stores in Invercargill and Gore.

Murray Warburton, who operated the Invercargill store as a dairy for 23 years before selling to Ms Tu, said he convinced her to expand from Southland into Central Otago after spotting a gap in the market for discount groceries.

“We are also beating Countdown [the yet-to-be-constructed supermarket at the other end of Centennial Ave] to the punch a bit.”

He would remain involved with Ms Tu’s business on staff. Both he and manager Jessie Zhou had been working to set up shop in Alexandra since about March. Work had ramped up in the past month, he said.

Alexandra Discounter manager Jessie Zhou

Ms Zhou does not have to commute to work, having lived in an apartment above the store since June 28.

She said the main focus of the store was general groceries at discount prices, and later possibly a commercial kitchen to allow the shop to sell a greater range of hot food.