The Northland town which was to have lost its only supermarket will instead end up with two - in the short term at least.
Countdown Paihia had been due to leave the Puketona Rd building it has occupied for the past 13 years yesterday, despite protracted efforts by parent company Progressive Enterprises to extend the lease.
With no resolution in sight, the building's owner has now taken the dispute to the High Court. Until the case can be heard, expected to be in Auckland next month, the supermarket will stay open. Meanwhile, work is nearing completion on a temporary Countdown shop in Paihia's old fire station.
The Paihia central shop is due to open on Sunday, which means the town will have two Countdowns as well as a Four Square across the road from the temporary store. Progressive's property manager Adrian Walker said the company had been trying to renew the lease for a long time without success.
"We're still working to resolve this situation, but disappointingly resolution will now be a matter for the courts."
The company would attend a hearing next month as part of the process. Mr Walker said he could not comment further on the dispute while the dispute was before the courts.
The new Paihia central shop, while small, would stock essentials such as produce, meat, seafood, dairy, baking, frozen food, dry goods, beer and wine at Countdown prices. It would be open seven days and have a staff of eight, mostly from the existing Paihia workforce. The company would take on a few extra workers and offer others extra shifts.
Despite the double-up, Mr Walker said the company had decided to keep the Puketona Rd store open until the lease issue was resolved.
"The supermarket is an essential part of the community and job security is really important for our team," he said.
Foodstuffs NZ, which owns the New World and Pak'nSave chains, has denied it is moving into the Puketona Rd building. The building's owner, Ian Blakeman of Kerikeri, did not return calls.
The opening of another grocery store on Paihia's main street has some townsfolk concerned about parking. However, Far North Holdings, which owns the fire station, is leasing spaces in its Williams Rd carpark to Countdown for customer use.
Far North Holdings chief executive Andy Nock said the fire station lease was for one year initially with scope for renewal.
Contrary to rumours swirling in the town there were no plans to develop the Williams Rd carpark or make it available for a new, full-size supermarket.