Four Square Houhora welcomes new owner, just in time for bustling summer season
14 December 2023
Four Square Houhora new owner operator Stefan Waijers and his family.
Four Square Houhora, the northernmost supermarket in New Zealand, has welcomed Stefan as its new owner operator, just in time for the bustling summer season.
Stefan says he’s wasted no time in getting to know the Houhora community, arriving early to ensure a smooth transition for both team members and customers during this busy period.
“It’s been so awesome getting to meet the locals, who’ve all been lovely, my new team, putting some faces to names.
“The beauty of this role will be in the diversity of customers I get to serve, from the local regulars to the tourists from all around the world who make the summer pilgrimage to Houhora for a visit to some of Aotearoa’s most stunning vacation spots.”
As the northernmost Four Square in the country, Four Square Houhora acts as a crucial hub for multiple communities and serves customers from north of Kaitaia to those at the very tip of Cape Reinga.
“The biggest challenge will be planning and managing our ordering processes as precisely as possible. If we run out of something, the nearest Store is 40 mins drive away.
“Thankfully, a fantastic new cross-dock has just opened in Whangarei which takes some of the pressure off! And it’s great to be part of the Foodstuffs North Island co-operative which provides a truly nationwide support network. “
Stefan says he also counts himself lucky to have such a strong team working alongside him.
“Many of the Four Square Houhora team have worked there for know exactly what the popular items are and what the Houhora community are looking for.
“Running a supermarket here is very different to running one in a city centre. You need to understand the NZ holiday patterns, as the people who shop for their holiday aren’t necessarily looking for the same items as locals visiting the store for their daily . We be a bit more mindful about what we stock, to ensure we cater to both types of customers.”
Stefan moved from working in the finance industry to pursue his dream of owning his own business around four years ago and he says he has never looked back.
His journey led him to the Foodstuffs North Island co-operative and New World New Lynn, where he spent three years learning the ins and outs of supermarket ownership under the mentorship of owners David and Andrea, before eventually applying for the Foodstuffs Ownership Immersion program.
“After I met David and Andrea, it became a no-brainer that this would be the industry I wanted to pursue,” he says.
“My wife Andy and I knew it would be a big step up, but we're so excited to step into our first store and finally make that dream a reality.”
As Stefan navigates the relocation process for his wife and two boys, he says his family is just as excited about the move as he is.
"My wife is from Northland originally, although not this far north. She's excited to be coming home, so to speak."
“The Four Square is within walking distance of the local School, which my two sons will be attending. The school has a pool which they're both really excited about. The boys especially love surfing, so me and the boys are real keen to get out there to surf, fish, and explore the absolutely gorgeous Houhora beaches."
Despite only being in the community for a few days, Stefan has already experienced a warm welcome from the locals.
“Everyone has been so lovely and come right up to introduce themselves."
"What I love about the supermarket industry, especially Four Square, is that you are so close to your customers. I love that daily interaction, being there for my community, and ensuring I go above and beyond to exceed their expectations."
“I’m very excited to get started.”