Video: New Woolworths supermarket on cards for Flaxmere
Flaxmere is poised to get a new Woolworths supermarket to replace the local New World store that will close at the end of this month, Hawke’s Bay App understands.
Last month it was revealed that Foodstuffs had decided not to renew its lease and to close its New World supermarket in the low-socio economic suburb.
At the time Foodstuffs spokesperson Emma Wooster said: “The owner of New World Flaxmere has started the consultation process with his team, due to the store closing on 25 February.”
The news was met with outrage and disappointment by locals and the Council. However Hawke’s Bay App has been told by sources that the Hastings District Council moved quickly to try to secure another supermarket operator for Flaxmere.
Hawke’s Bay App understands that the Council has been in talks with food chain Woolworths NZ with a Woolworths (formerly Countdown) supermarket poised to become a reality in Flaxmere.
It will be a relief for the local community and leaders who described the closure as disappointing.
Approached for comment about a Woolworths supermarket for Flaxmere, Hastings District Council CEO Nigel Bickle said: “Council is unable to comment at this time.”
However, Hawke’s Bay App understands that talks between the Council and Woolworths NZ are at an advanced stage and that the new store will be located in a new development situated behind the current New World store.
In response to questions, a Woolworths NZ spokesperson said the group had noted the closure of the New World Flaxmere.
“While we’re always looking for new opportunities to open stores in communities across Aotearoa, we don’t have a Flaxmere proposal to share at the moment. We will update the local community if that changes.”
When the news was announced, locals in Flaxmere expressed upset over the decision.
Barbie Aranui says the closure is “pretty devastating”.
“My whole family have lived here in Flaxmere for a long time, for over a decade. And we've used this place a lot and it's afforded us a lot of stuff as well. We're pretty sad basically that this place is closing down.”
For Christine Cunningham, the closure would hit the residents of nearby Swansea Village.
“I'm absolutely devastated, especially for our kaumātua that live over here at Swansea Village. A lot of them don't have vehicles, so what's going to happen to them? It's just absolutely devastating to be perfectly honest.”
Christina Reriti says that many residents do not own cars.
“Not much of a transport to the out of town to bring a lot of shopping back. It's the older people plus the population's gone up, so they definitely need a supermarket.”
Kevin Graham is mourning the closure of “the hub for the village”.
“And I feel sure that there should be a replacement put back in, but that's up to the council and the owners of the complex.”
The operator of New World Flaxmere, Ben Duffield, last month referred all inquiries to Foodstuffs.
At the time Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said: “Foodstuffs has outlined its reasons, related to the standard of the building. Those matters are between Foodstuffs and the landlord – the owner of the Flaxmere shopping village."
“Foodstuffs has assured me that they are providing opportunities for the supermarket’s staff at other sites, which will be helpful for those who are able to travel to work outside of Flaxmere.”
“With a population of 11,000-plus and many hundreds of homes being built, the area undoubtedly needs a supermarket. While Council is not able to construct or run a supermarket, we have zoned land in the new development for such retail, and that remains the case. Our team continues to actively work on attracting another supermarket operator to Flaxmere.”
Last year Foodstuffs and the Hastings District Council released a joint statement saying they had made the “difficult decision” to cancel a sale and purchase agreement for land in the suburb to build a new supermarket.
“This follows Foodstuffs North Island’s conclusion that building a supermarket on the site in the current economic environment isn’t sustainable,” the statement said.