New World Onekawa owners Jess and Ant Pederson - the latter of whom is a former professional motorsport driver - are aiming to put their supermarket in pole position with their competitive racing mindsets.
The couple recently purchased New World Onekawa in late October after owning Four Square Kaiwaka for nearly three years, and a Four Square in Tauranga before that.
Both underwent a career spin to enter the supermarket ownership game in 2017, with Jess leaving a fulltime job as a registered nurse and Ant moving on from working as a former professional motorsport driver and fulltime chartered accountant.
“Our parents are business owners themselves, so they provided a bit of inspiration around business ownership,” Ant, who grew up in Rotorua, said.
He said they had to decide whether he’d pursue a racing career in Australia or they’d go into supermarket ownership with Foodstuffs, before ultimately purchasing their first Four Square while Jess was pregnant with their first child.
The couple moved to Hawke’s Bay to take over a new, larger store to be closer to family and because they saw potential in the store.
Although Ant retired “cold turkey”, he went back to racing when his father, Paul, convinced him to return to the scene with him in 2021, after about six years of retirement.
“He phoned up out of the blue and said, ‘Son, let’s go racing’. I said, ‘No!’” Ant said.
He said the commitments of running a supermarket and spending time with his children, Ruby, 7, Harry, 5, and Archie, 2, were already tough to balance, but he soon decided he could return to racing in occasional “low-key” domestic competitions.
He recently proved that his competitive drive had not been lost when he, along with his dad and young driver Marco Giltrap, won the Highlands 6 Hour last month, beating the likes of Shane van Gisbergen in one of the biggest races in New Zealand.
It is this competitive mindset that he’s applying to New World Onekawa.
“At every store, we’ve just wanted to be the best. We want to be the best small New World. We just want to win and provide the best shopping experience for the community,” Ant said.
The couple said they were “impressed” by their team of staff and the community, who have been through Covid, the Napier floods in 2020, Cyclone Gabrielle, a whole store refurbishment and a change in ownership.
“We are keen to give back,” Jess said.
“In the previous Four Squares, we had a raft of initiatives to try to solidify that relationship between store and community, and we will look to do them here. It is just it will look a bit different, because this is a big store and this is a bigger city,” Ant said.
James Pocock joined Hawke’s Bay Today in 2021 and writes breaking news and features, with a focus on environment, local government and post-cyclone issues in the region. He has a keen interest in finding the bigger picture in research and making it more accessible to audiences. He lives in Napier. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.