A major New Zealand grocery retailer has shown its faith in the future of Te Puke by building a $12 million supermarket in the town's centre which opens for business today.
The new New World supermarket is almost three times as big as Te Puke's old New World supermarket and will employ an additional 20 to 25 staff.
Owner/operator Jon Morrison told the Bay of Plenty Times employee numbers had risen to more than 90 with the addition of a seven-person bakery team, more staff in the expanded seafood department and on the additional checkouts.
Mr Morrison said Foodstuffs (the co-operative that owns the New World brand) started planning the new store four or five years ago and had not been put off by the impact of the vine-killing disease Psa on the town dubbed the kiwifruit capital of the world.
"The overall cost of the project is more than $12 million, so it's a massive investment and shows a lot of faith in this town and the future of this town. Supermarkets had felt the flow-on effects of Psa, with less customers and smaller spends," Mr Morrison said.
However, the old store had been showing its limitations for some time and New World believed a new store was justified. "We've got belief in this town that it will, one, get through the Psa crisis and come out the other end and, two, that even if it became a major issue we'll find other ways and means of producing whatever we need to produce and it will still be a strong town for years to come."
Originally from Matamata, Mr Morrison learned the grocery trade at Pak'nSave in Glen Innes, Auckland, before buying his first store in Te Puke three-and-a-half years ago.
He's become a staunch supporter of the town and was pleased to be able to bring a new shopping experience to Te Puke.
"To be able to bring this to the local community is just awesome, it really is because the town has been hanging out for it for a long time.
"From the time I arrived in Te Puke that was the question asked of me all the time, 'when are you getting a new store?' and to finally be able to bring it to them is a really cool feeling."
Te Puke Economic Development Group managing director Mark Boyle said the new supermarket was a significant addition to the community.
"The new supermarket adds tremendous value to our service and product offering and will also feature in our expanded tourism plans for the Te Puke region.
"International cruise ship visitors have a strong interest in how ordinary people go about their lives and a visit to a high-quality supermarket is a valuable tourist experience. The new Te Puke Country Town Experience is an important piece of our Te Puke cruise ship strategy."