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A whole New World . . . New World Waitaki owners Greg Flannery and Tineke Powell in front of their renamed store. PHOTO: GUS PATTERSON

Greg Flannery and Tineke Powell are relatively new to Oamaru, but they are no strangers to the supermarket industry.

In June last year, the couple bought the New World supermarket in Oamaru’s North End. Last month, they changed its name from New World Northside to New World Waitaki.

Mr Flannery’s introduction to the industry came in the form of an after-school job stacking shelves and returning trolleys at Mosgiel New World.

For Mrs Powell, supermarkets are in her blood stack toilet paper at her parents’ Four Square in Milton.

The couple met during a Foodstuffs training course in Christchurch in 2006. They took over the ownership of New World Temuka from Mrs Powell’s parents in 2016.

They jumped at the opportunity to move to Oamaru last year and take on a bigger store.

“We are both originally from Otago and we love the region,” Mr Flannery said.

“We have come in on some awesome work the previous owners have done, so we have just tried to continue on the good path.

“We have 100 staff here and we couldn’t speak highly enough of them.”

The transition was fast and easy, Mrs Powell said.

“We had four weeks to sell a house, sell a business, buy a house, buy a business and get to here,” she said.

“There are heaps of opportunities here [in Oamaru], and it’s small enough that it has that nice feel.”

Supermarkets were at the forefront of Covid-19 restrictions, and it was like “no other experience”, Mr Flannery said.

Setting guidelines to keep staff and customers safe was a big undertaking, but once systems were in place, it became easier, he said.

“It just became normal.

“People adjusted really quickly. People just accepted the fact there was queues.

“You would hear customers thanking the operators because they were the frontline.”

The supermarket organised home deliveries to vulnerable people, with assistance from other agencies, and was still delivering to several people in the community.

“That’s another awesome thing about Oamaru: there is great support, great people and organisations,” Mr Flannery said.

When the country went back to Alert Level 2 last month, it was straightforward to put the signage back up and customers had been very compliant, he said.

The supermarket’s new name – New World Waitaki – was a better reflection of the customers, Mrs Powell said.

“We have customers all the way from Palmerston to the Mackenzie country are proud to be servicing the Waitaki district.

“And people outside of the area, they will know where we are now.”