Heres to a Hundy! Four Square celebrates 100 years of serving local communities

4  July 2024


The team at Four Square Heliers has been celebrating Four Square’s centenary every day
this week,
with specials, instore competitions, giveaways including a 100-second trolley
grab, limited-edition
merch for sale and more!

On July 4, Four Square, the beloved Kiwi brand as recognisable as jandals, gumboots and the Buzzy Bee, is celebrating 100 years of serving communities across Aotearoa.  

Four Square’s roots stretch back a century ago when on 4 July 1924, a square was drawn around the ‘4’ in the calendar by local grocer and Four Square founder, J Heaton Barker.

Four Square was the name Barker gave to the co-operative buying group of local grocers because they “would stand Four Square to all the winds that blew”.

Four Square Onehunga was New Zealand’s first ever self-service supermarket, a revolutionary idea that changed the way Kiwis shop, allowing them to choose their own groceries, rather than relying on a clerk to collect them.

The orignal Four Square in Onehunga The first self-service Four Square store opened in Onehunga in 1948 and was to be the forerunner of similar self-service stores throughout New Zealand.

A new era for grocery retailing was on its way, paving the way for the modern Four Square brand as we now know it.

According to Greg Stone, Head of Four Square, Foodstuffs North Island, the key to the brand’s longevity and relevance isn’t what’s changed, but what’s stayed the same.

“Many things have changed over the past 100 years, but the core values of Four Square – convenience and community servicelive on,” Greg says. 

FSNI Head of Four Square Greg Stone According to Greg Stone, Head of Four Square, Foodstuffs North Island, the key to the
brand’s longevity and relevance
isn’t what’s changed, but what’s stayed the same.

“Four Square supermarkets are places where the local community gets together, where you might bump into a neighbour, share a laugh with the checkout operator, and grab a loaf of bread – all in one go. 

“Being around for 100 years is a tremendous achievement, and it’s a milestone we couldn’t have reached by ourselves. This anniversary is an opportunity to thank all the Kiwis who have helped us over the years – our customers, our suppliers, and our communities.

“Four Square isn't just celebrating the past, we’re also looking to the future as we introduce our refreshed store format across the country - a contemporary take on the Four Square brand that everyone knows and loves, geared towards today’s shopper.”

One store that’s embodied the community spirit of Four Square longer than any other is Four Square Martinborough, which the Kershaw family first opened as an independent grocery store in 1873

Four Square Martinborough owner operator Conor Kershaw Fourth generation grocer and owner operator of Four Square Martinborough Conor
Kershaw will be celebrating Four Square’s 100
th birthday with the community he and his
family has served through wars,
recessions and technological advancements.

The supermarket came under the Four Square banner in 1950 and the Kershaws continued to serve their local community through two world wars, the introduction of the motor vehicle and other technological advancements, and through earthquakes and natural disasters.


Fourth generation grocer Conor Kershaw says he’s proud to inherit a legacy of community service. 


“It’s a privilege to own a store that’s part of such a beloved, uniquely Kiwi brand,” Conor says.

As an owner operator, were part of our community, we know our customers by name and we ensure we provide a personal touch. My family has been involved with this store for four generations, and we wouldn’t have made it half this far without consistently adapting to the changing needs of our customers."

He describes the self-service supermarket as a fantastic innovation from Four Square, and one that’s enabled an enormous amount of choice. 

Back in the 1900s, we had to buy in bulk and every customer had to buy the same thing. Supermarket floors were wooden and often covered in saw dust, shelves were floor-to-ceiling, making it hard to reach what you wanted, lighting was poor and concepts like customer flow and the strategic placement of stock weren’t seen as a science. 

By adopting the Four Square brand and becoming a truly self-service supermarket, we could expand our range and sell tailored items we couldn't sell before like medicine and a ‘serve yourself’ biscuit rack.

Conor and the team at Four Square Martinborough, alongside many other Four Squares, have a big birthday celebration planned for the centenary, with giveaways, specials and a limited-edition range of Mr Four Square merchandise available for purchase instore. 

When asked what the next 100 years will look like, Conor says hopefully more of the same. 


"People will always need their local store," he says. "We'll be here, offering a tailored service and a welcoming smile, for as long as we can.”

Four Square’s journey:

  • 1948: New Zealand’s first self-service grocery store opened in Onehunga, Auckland, by Phil Barker (son of the group founder) and Ray McGregor. This soon became the norm for grocery retailing.

  • 1950: Foodstuffs advertising department designed the famous Mr Four Square. He initially appeared in newspaper advertising and on posters, but eventually  became part of the Four Square identity; appearing in every Four Square store. Mr Four Square has been through several transformations and has become a nationally recognised icon in Aotearoa New Zealand.

  • 1970s: The contemporary version of the Mr Four Square we know and love today is created by Kiwi artist Dick Frizzel. 

  • 2020: The latest format Four Square stores are rolled out across the country showcasing a revamped Four Square brandcontemporary store layout designed for convenience and ease, premium local supplier partnerships, self-service checkouts, and food-to-go options.

  • 2023: The latest format Four Square supermarket opens in Britomart, central Auckland.

  • 2024: Four Square now has 223 stores across the country.