Upset over closure

Ian Cawood.
Ian Cawood.

A disgruntled pensioner is questioning Foodstuff's commitment to the region after the announcement that Hawera's New World store will close.

Hawera resident Ian Cawood has done the sums and he believes the figures don't add up.

In an open letter to Foodstuffs North Island managing director Murray Jordan, Cawood has asked the national supermarket giant to reconsider.

But Foodstuffs North Island general manager property development Angela Bull said there was no chance of that happening.

Cawood said South Taranaki's population was currently increasing, now standing at 26,580.

"This equates to one supermarket per 8860 residents," he said.

Cawood calculated New Plymouth had nine supermarkets for its population of 74,184, roughly one supermarket per 7418 residents.

Stratford on the other hand has a population of 8988, equating to one supermarket per 8988 residents, he said.

With a new store planned for Stratford, Cawood said the expected ratio would become 1 to 4498 residents.

He understood another two stores were planned for New Plymouth, also lowering their figures.

While Pak 'n Save could serve the area on behalf of Foodstuffs, Cawood said many pensioners wouldn't be likely to shop there.

"You can provide sustainable employment and serve the local community of South Taranaki, support the rural economy and provide Hawera, the hub of South Taranaki, with a New World supermarket that it justly deserves," he said.

"Prove to us that you are 100 per cent committed to providing rural New Zealand with the best supermarket experience possible."

But Bull said that things weren't quite that simple.

"While South Taranaki as a whole has a population of 26,580; the population of Hawera is 8360 and is serviced by three supermarkets," she said.

"Our assessment is that it will therefore become increasingly challenging for the population to support three large supermarkets."

Bull believed Pak 'n Save could provide shoppers with exactly what they need at no extra inconvenience.

"I would like to confirm our ongoing commitment to Hawera and the provinces generally," she said.

While there were some understandably upset residents, Bull said the response to the closure had generally been compassionate.

"Feedback from the community direct to the New World has been supportive of (owner/operators) Rachel and Mike (Clayton), and the staff."

New World Hawera will close officially on August 31. It is business as usual until that date.