From flood sodden to showstopper: New Four Square Mahora owner operators renovate store after eventful start to supermarket life

16 February 2024

4sq Mahora owners

Four Square Mahora owner operator Scott Iskowiczalongside partner Stephanie Tidey and their son Ollie


Four Square Mahora owner operator Scott Iskowicz alongside partner Stephanie Tidey, took up ownership of the Hawkes’ Bay store just 18 months ago, and have had what they call an ‘eventful start’ to supermarket life

Not only did the couple have their first child and takeover a new business, relocating from Australia for the Foodstuffs North Island Four Square ownership programme, a mere three months into taking the reins of the Four Square Mahora store Cyclone Gabrielle hit, destroying stock and closing the store down for several days.  

Now, one year on, the store has revealed a fresh new look with a complete renovation, upgrading the store interior, exterior and product range – one of the first in the Hawkes’ Bay to showcase the fully refreshed new Four Square brand that’s being rolled out across the country.

Stephanie says despite some major events happening to them within a short space of time, the couple absolutely love Mahora and are really excited about what the new store means for the community


The newly renovated Four Square Mahora


“We love living here, we’re so close to everything in the Hawke’s Bay – ten minutes' drive from Hastings, Havelock North and Flaxmere and all that the region has to offerCustomers have been really surprised at the new Four Square look and feel as well as our increased range. We've had a really positive reaction,” she says 

The upgraded store, which has a friendly team of 15, now stocks an expanded produce range, fresh bakery items, an ever-increasing butchery cabinet alongside barista-made ‘Flight’ coffee, hot chicken and chips, and even a fresh mussel station, which Scott says is a big hit with the locals.  

“I don’t think we’ve ever experienced such supportive customers, who are really pleased that there’s been investment into the community, with one even saying how fantastic it is to see a young couple passionate about what they do, breathing new life into Mahora.

That community support also shone through during Cyclone Gabrielle, when the couple not only lost power to the store for four days, but also experienced flooding in their own home, where Stephanie says the water reached the level of their light switches

“We were living in Puketapu at the time, around 20 minutes' drive away from the store and at 5am on the 14 February, Scott drove to the store to check out what was going on. While it hadn’t flooded, the loss of power meant a large amount of food had to be disposed of. Scott then got stuck in Mahora with flooding cutting off the roads and he couldn’t get back to us,” she says.

Meanwhile the water kept rising for Stephanie at home, where she was trapped with their then 8-month-old son, Ollie

“Fortunately, we had a second story to our house, where both Ollie and I stayedWe waited for a terrifying six hours until we were both helicoptered off the roof by a local helicopter company while the rain continued to come down and we were then dropped 50 meters along into the neighbour’s paddockA few days later, Ollie and I were picked up again by the New Zealand Army BlackHawk and flown to Hastings' township to be reunited with Scott.”

“We were still fairly new to the region but luckily had just made some new friends who offered to put us up for a few days. We also had several messages from our regular customers who also offered their homes to us, even though so many of them were having their own flooding issues, it just shows how wonderful the locals are here.  

“The whole the time, we were focused on getting the store open to be able to serve the community as quickly as we could, restocking the shelves as soon as the power came back on.



The Four Square Mahora team restocking


Four Square is part of Foodstuffs North Island which is a co-operative of locally owned and operated grocers, including New World and PAK’nSAVE supermarketsScott says it was such a relief to be able to rely on the wider team after the cyclone, with aid coming through from a fellow Foodstuffs North Island supermarket New World Hastings, who helped the Four Square team with clean up.  

“We were able to use their support to get hold of some skip bins to dispose of our damaged stockWhen they heard what had happened, they swooped in and saved the day, it was a bit of a godsend to be able to have that wider support from another store as well as the head office who were also incredibly supportive," he says

Giving back to the community is also a big part of the couple’s philosophy



Mahora School Fundraiser


 “From the get-go we wanted to be a big part of the community, and we’ve been really involved with the local Mahora Primary School.  It's just amazing to us that the community has been with us right from the beginning too, from when we first took the reins of the store and through this eventful year we’ve had and now with the new renovation.  We’re both just incredibly grateful,” he says.