Supermarket closes with 40 job losses

By Victoria White

1 comment
The closure of Write Price in Wairoa is a 'huge blow to the community'.
The closure of Write Price in Wairoa is a 'huge blow to the community'.

A "huge blow" has been dealt to residents of Wairoa, with more than 40 potentially losing their jobs in the next month when one of the community's two supermarkets closes its doors.

After 29 years of trading as Write Price, owner operator Trevor Wong announced his retirement in a letter to customers.

Owner of Write Price and New World supermarkets, Foodstuffs New Zealand, have said they will not be selling the store to another operator.

Write Price currently employ 44 staff, and will cease trading on July 3.

Ikaroa-Rwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri said the surprise closure of Write Price was a huge blow for Wairoa but it was too soon to know exactly how it would impact the community.

"Forty jobs is huge for Wairoa," she said. "We don't have the resources to absorb even 10, 20, 30 people, we don't have that economy in Wairoa at the moment. That's 40 families."

In his letter, Mr Wong said he would support staff and help them find other roles, particularly at Wairoa New World.

At this stage, Wairoa Mayor Craig Little said it was hard to say how many staff could be employed. He said, whether one person or 40 lost their jobs, it was a huge blow to Wairoa and people's livelihoods.

"I hope Foodstuffs get that people are at the heart of this," he said.

Council would be seeing how they could help staff, as "they'll be the ones struggling, out of everybody", he said.

Foodstuffs North Island general manager retail Doug Cochrane told the Wairoa Star Mr Wong's announcement, in conjunction with an extensive review of their operation in Wairoa, led them to believe this was the right decision.

"We currently have one Write Price and one New World supermarket in Wairoa and it has become increasingly difficult to sustain two supermarkets in the district," Mr Cochrane said.

"We feel our New World store is best placed to meet the community's everyday shopping requirements."

Foodstuffs had bought Mr Wong's property, with plans to build a brand-new New World supermarket on the site.

Mr Little said he had always struggled with the idea of Foodstuffs owning both supermarkets, and without competition was worried about the economic impact.

When asked, he said he thought New World could now increase their prices, and was concerned people would begin shopping out-of-town for not only their groceries, but other goods.

Ms Whaitiri hoped competition could still be created in Wairoa, as the community did not have the economy, or resources to deal with a supermarket monopoly.

"I am concerned about how Wairoa shoppers will be affected if New World ends up with a monopoly position in Wairoa, as this can impact on everyone in the community," she said.

Meka Whaitiri has offered Write Price staff the use of her parliamentary office in Wairoa, if they wished to meet and discuss what the situation meant for them going forward. She said if they could be of help to call her Wairoa office on 06 838 5090

- Hawkes Bay Today

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