When it first appeared on Auckland's retail scene in 2006, upmarket grocery chain Nosh promised an alternative to the big supermarkets. Like Whole Foods in America, Nosh was the place to go for organic vegetables, boutique cheese, and exotic charcuterie.

Shopping would be "an experience, not a chore", said founders Clinton Beuvink and Chris Moore. The first gourmet market was opened in Glen Innes in July. The chain grew to have nine stores across the North Island.

Earlier this week, black rubbish bags covered the doors of the original Glen Innes Nosh. A paper note taped to the door explained the business was "working tirelessly behind the scenes to deliver you the best version of Nosh".

However, another note - from the landlord - said there won't be another Nosh there, telling prospective shoppers the lease is terminated for "having failed to satisfy default notices".

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The notice also warns that any attempt by the tenant to gain entry to the premises would be viewed as trespassing.

A spokesman for supplier FRED Coffee said it had leased space in the store where they sold and made coffee since the opening of the Glenn Innes store 11 years ago.

"It was like a co-op back then," he said, "different people sublet different parts of the shop."

FRED continued to supply coffee and sublet space until about a month ago.

The spokesman said the company was owed about $3000, and the last contact he had from Nosh was to remove equipment.

Earlier this month, Nosh closed at least four stores for an ostensible relaunch on June 26. When the day came, different notices said the relaunch had been delayed until July 8.

In Ponsonby, Nosh had a note this month saying they were closed for relocation, though at the time a staff member said there was no new location as yet. The Dominion Road store had an accompanying note saying stock supplies had been extremely low.

Nosh was bought by NZX-listed food investor Veritas in September 2014. Veritas took on $5 million of funding with ANZ to facilitate the acquisition from then owner Paul Lucas who had taken over the business from Beuvink. Then chairman of Veritas Mark Darrow said Nosh was a "highly desirable and complementary acquisition".

"Nosh is a great brand and fits perfectly into our food service and retail investment strategy," Darrow said at the time. Veritas' share price rose 12c the following day, putting them at $1.22.

Just over three years later, as the company attempted to sell Nosh, its share price hit 15c. The stock closed today at 19c. Veritas struggled to make the grocery chain profitable and was forced to sell or close the business by their bank, ANZ, late last year.

People in the industry shook their heads when Nosh was sold.

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At the eleventh hour - and after two extensions from ANZ - a buyer came through for Veritas.

Sydney-based investor, Andrew Guy Phillips, bought the unprofitable chain via the company Gosh Holding for $4m saying he had the backing of a number of wealthy Kiwis.

Only one of these backers was revealed through changes to the Companies Office. He was Jonathan Denize, an Auckland man who has been declared bankrupt twice.

Denize did not respond to attempts to contact him this week.

"People in the industry shook their heads when Nosh was sold," said retail analyst Chris Wilkinson. "We all tried to work out who these buyers were."

Phillips was positive at the beginning of his purchase, and agreed to talk to the Herald about exciting plans for the franchise. This never came about and since the stores shut, he has not responded to calls or emails.

A number of employees and creditors of the business said this week that they were waiting for payment from Nosh.

Has Nosh dfailed on its promise of giving shoppers choice? Photo / Jason Oxenham
Has Nosh dfailed on its promise of giving shoppers choice? Photo / Jason Oxenham

Three staff members, who did not want to be named, told the Herald they were waiting to be paid a combination of wages and holiday pay.

Latesha Randall from Raglan Coconut Yoghurt, which supplied Nosh, told the Herald she was still waiting on payment after a number of delays.

A spokesman for FRED Coffee was irate over the way his business had been treated.

"How can people do this?" he said. "There was 120 staff and for small suppliers these amounts of money can be make or break for their business."

Former Nosh owner Veritas Investments earlier this month launched legal proceedings against the new owner, Gosh Holding, over late payments.

NZX-listed Veritas alleged Gosh Holding, since renamed as Nosh Group, consistently failed to meet a payment schedule, breaching a sale and purchase agreement which was completed in February.

Veritas sold Nosh to Gosh in February for $4m and said they were owed about $69,000 by the chain's new owner.

"We entered into this transaction in good faith after a rigorous process and it is extremely disappointing that the directors of Gosh Holdings Limited [now Nosh Group Limited] have clearly failed and continue to fail to meet their financial and legal obligations," chairman Tim Cook alleged in a statement to the stock exchange earlier this month.

Steve Magino, who owns two companies which supplied Nosh, said he was owed money.

Magino said he had never been contacted by Phillips or Denize and stopped supplying the stores about three weeks ago.

Magino said it wasn't worth fighting for payment anymore.

"I want the money, but it's not worth the stress," he said.

He would consider supplying stores again if the debts were paid off and he could come to a firm payment agreement with the owners.

Wilkinson believed Nosh had failed to change in a constantly evolving market.
In his view, the grocery chain remained stagnant as competitors began to ramp up premium food offerings

"They didn't seem to get the 'customer experience'," he said.

"Walking through Nosh was like walking through a mausoleum," Wilkinson said.