Alicia and Andy Mclean recently took over as owner-operators of New World Waitaki. Ashley Smyth finds out more about the couple who run Oamaru’s North End supermarket, and how they are settling into Oamaru life.
Q Tell us about yourselves and your family.
We are Alicia and Andy Mclean. We have two children, a 15-year-old daughter at Waitaki Girls’ High School and a 13-year-old son at Waitaki Boys’. We also have a dog (a Hungarian Vizsla) called Red who joins us in the office and is fast becoming the New World Waitaki mascot.
Q Where you have come from, and what has led you to taking over at New World Waitaki?
Alicia is from a farming background in Shropshire, in the United Kingdom, and has trained in environmental science. Andy is from Whitianga on the Coromandel Peninsular. Andy trained and worked as a pharmacist for a number of years before switching to the grocery industry. We met in Wellington and moved back and forth between the UK and New Zealand before settling back in Whitianga.
On returning to New Zealand we were looking to purchase a business. Initially we looked at pharmacies, but circumstances made us look further afield, and in 2013 we bought Four Square Bluff. We spent a very happy nine years in Bluff before being given the opportunity to buy New World Waitaki.
Q Do you have any plans for changes, that you can share with us?
Previous store owners have done a great job in the shop, but we do have a few things up our sleeve.
We have just rolled out online shopping and are providing click and collect at New World Waitaki. This is something customers have been looking forward to for some time and our team is excited about the new service.
We will also be installing electronic shelf labels in June. These electronic labels replace the old paper-based price tickets. The paper system has an element of human error, which we do our best to minimise, but the new electronic labels will ensure our labelling is clear and accurate.
Q How are you finding Oamaru?
We are really enjoying life in Oamaru. The town has a great vibe and we love the cafes and various restaurants and shops. We are exploring the beaches and walks with Red and are trying to find some fossils — no luck so far. We are into tramping, camping and fishing, so are looking forward to more time outside.
Q What do you enjoy about the area?
It is a great community with very friendly and helpful locals. We love the history and buildings. Andy’s favourite Oamaru fact is that the main street was designed so wide, so a bullock train could do a U-turn. It has been fun exploring the galleries and seeing all the creativity and eating too much cheese. We have been enjoying the Oamaru Farmers’ Market and having chats to new people.
Q What is something about running a supermarket that not many people know?
Most people think a supermarket is about stacking shelves and operating checkouts. Of course that is part of it, but running a supermarket is mostly about people. New World Waitaki has a great reputation for friendly, helpful staff.
Q What are your interests outside of work?
As a family, we are all into getting outside. Alicia is a mad-keen shell collector, and enjoys gardening and plants in general. Andy is into hunting, especially remote alpine trips. He used to be a very keen freediver and still gets out on the water when he can.
We all share a passion for restoring habitat for native animals and plants. In Bluff we were members of the Bluff Hill Environmental Trust. We ran predator trap lines, nurtured the regenerating native bush, and eradicated thousands of wilding pines. In Oamaru, we have been enjoying seeing the penguins and seals.