Fifo takes on the giants

by | May 10, 2024 | Opinion

In August of last year Progressive closed down their Countdown store in the Hamilton suburb of Nawton.  Rising crime, a building not fit for purpose, end of their lease and an economically deprived area were some of the reasons given and or surmised.

What resulted was an opportunity for a more progressive business, or this is what the owners of Fifo would like to think with the opening of their store at the start of this month.  Touted as New Zealand’s largest independent supermarket, co-owner Manish Thakkar has been quoted in saying he hopes this is a model that can be rolled out throughout NZ.

The belief is that Fifos offering could potentially be better than the giants in the game as they can stock a wide variety of products due to not having to order through any one supplier’s product range.  A great angle but in this economically deprived area is variety or price the key motivator?

Mr Thakkar, is no stranger to the grocery game or the rising crime.  As the owner of SuperValue Parkwood he and his wife, Rupali are not afraid of hard work and their aspirations are admirable.

Along with their business partners, Aarti and Rakesh Patel, the Thakkars have invested $2.5 million into the fit of the shop.  Mr Thakkars says “This town has given me everything. When I came from India I had only $2000 in my pocket. It was time for me to give back to the community”.

Just a suburb away from me I decided to check them out.  Nawton Mall, I spot I confess I have not visited in many years is bustling with a large vegetable store and butcher, there is of course a liquor shop along with several others from a dollar store to the obligatory sushi shop.  Sure, when countdown left there was no supermarket, but I can’t help but wonder if there is a market for one, super or not.  Just 3.5kms away is Countdown Dinsdale and Pak n Save is just 3.9kms away.

We headed in via the security guard to check things out and my honest take home is that variety they hoped would be one of their assets is not visible.  What unfortunately is are the high prices.  This is a large dairy, and you are paying for the convenience.

There is no denying Fifo has a long way to climb before it can compete with the giants, let’s just hope they have the magic beans – for the Nawton community and the rest of NZ.


About the Author

Vicki Ravlich-Horan

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