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Making plans . . . Aucklander Aman Bains is helping his father Amrik Singh find his feet as the new owner of Frasers Supermarket, in Oamaru’s Thames Highway. PHOTO: ASHLEY SMYTH

After being seen behind the counter at Frasers Four Square for more than 40 years, Brian Fraser’s face is now immortalised on its roof.

Aman Bains, the son of new owner Amrik Singh, designed the sign himself as a tribute to the former owners — Mr Fraser and his wife, Trish.

It was even bringing in new customers to what was now Frasers Supermarket, Mr Bains said.

‘‘So, I will tell all the customers about Brian, his story, how he’s been here for 40 years,’’ he said.

‘‘Basically the reason why I decided to keep the Frasers’ name, and the sign, was just to pay tribute to them, because they’ve been here so long. It’s kind of immortalised him in history, because now he’s going to be there forever, you know.’’

The store changed hands on what Mr Bains believed to be Mr Fraser’s 80th birthday.

‘‘So he was pretty happy to finally retire and put his feet up, you know, and they still drop by here and there.’’

The father and son had come from Auckland, where Mr Bains had grown up. Mr Singh had been a furniture maker, manufacturing for Target Furniture in the 1980s and ’90s, before changing course, and entering the convenience store industry.

‘‘We had four stores, they were called Stop ‘N’ Save, back up in Auckland. We had one in Papakura, which is still operating, one at Mt Eden, which is still operating, and two others we have sold.’’

Mr Bains, who was an architect, had seen the Frasers store on the market for about two years, so he and his father decided to make the trip south to find out more.

‘‘We spoke to Trish and Brian. . .we just had a bit of a discussion, and we decided we just bite the bullet and take a risk.’’

Brian Fraser’s face on the roof of Frasers Supermarket.

It was both men’s first time in Oamaru. They had now been in town for about two months, and were enjoying the change of pace.

‘‘Everyone’s been welcoming. We’ve had a few suggestions of what we should and shouldn’t do here, so I’m taking them all into account, and yeah, we’ll see how we can progress from there. Everyone’s been really kind to us,’’ he said.

The store was now trading independently, and plans were in motion to remove a rear wall, and extend the store out the back.

They were considering different options for the store, including stocking bulk wholesale foods, along with a bigger selection for the Pasifika community, many of whom were regular customers, he said.

Pies were a good seller for the store, so Mr Bains hoped to increase that range, as well as expanding the fruit, vegetables and meat selection. He was also looking to branch out into pet food and products, and possibility stock some American treat foods, such as Tootsie Rolls.

No longer being part of the Foodstuffs brand meant Pams products could not be restocked, once the existing stock had sold, and ordering supplies in general was a more difficult prospect in the competitive industry.

The duo were in talks with Woolworths New Zealand (formerly Progressive Enterprises), with the possibility of becoming a Supervalue, or once the store had been made bigger, there was the possibility Foodstuffs would want back on board, he said.

‘‘Other than that, we could just leave it as Frasers Supermarket.’’

Being part of a franchise made it easier to order supplies, and compete with the ‘‘big players’’ price-wise, he said.

‘‘We’re trying to keep our prices as low as possible . . . We’ve got a few products that are cheaper than the supermarkets.

‘‘It’s just basically getting the word out there, because a lot of people don’t know. Our dedicated customer base, they’re happy that we’ve got products that we can supply at a cheaper rate through the suppliers.’’

Mr Bains was unsure how long he would remain in Oamaru. He was here to help ‘‘get the ball rolling’’ for his father and then return to Auckland, where he was in the process of opening a chocolate factory.

He was also playing a part in bringing American convenience chain Circle K to New Zealand.

‘‘So we’ve got three or four Circle Ks in the works — we’re basically the licensees for New Zealand for Circle K. Our plan is to bring the gas giant to New Zealand and focus on EV stations for electric vehicles. My cousin’s actually in charge of that. So we’ve got a few big projects in the works.’’

Mr Bains said it had been instilled in him from a young age to work hard.

‘‘My parents are originally from India, right. They basically immigrated to New Zealand with just, like, $20, and they worked really hard and opened up businesses.

‘‘So just being in an environment growing up, where it’s always go, go, go business.

‘‘That’s just been instilled in me, like how I can go further with what they’ve taught me. Basically I’m just trying to be an entrepreneur really, see if I can make the most of the time I have on Earth.’’

He thought the biggest challenge for his father right now was leaving everything behind in Auckland.

‘‘Dad’s really starting fresh here. He loves it. It’s a lot quieter down here.’’

The biggest challenge for the store was the lack of space.

‘‘It’s very small for what we want to do, so hence why we’re trying to extend the shop.

‘‘Once that’s done, then we can probably get a few more products in here, and stock them in a larger quantity. Because we have heaps of customers coming in.’’

The renovation work was expected to take at least two months, and then there would be an official opening of the new-look store, Mr Bains said.