FOLLOWING a grocery industry career that spanned Countdown, SuperValue and Fresh Choice over four decades, former industry leader Fred Hawthorne passed away late last month.
Fred was born in Northern Ireland in 1951 and finally retired from Progressive in late 2009. His career in grocery started in Christchurch in 1966 as a 15 year-old when his mother gave him the choice of grocery or the Post Office. He worked at Four Square, Haywrights and then Self Help before becoming the youngest supermarket manager in the SuperValue Group at just 19.
In the mid 1970’s, Fred managed the Foodland supermarket in Kaiapoi which changed to a Super Keystore and then became an early Countdown Foodmarket following the Rattrays takeover.
In 1990, Fred took the challenge of opening a new Countdown in Christchurch’s south City before being promoted to National Operations Manager of Progressive and leading the Countdown beachhead into the North Island.
In all, Fred was responsible for opening 33 Countdown stores. He continued to manage the Countdown stores through the industry’s great changes including the Woolworths takeover and in 2004 he took up the new challenge to lead the SuperValue and Fresh Choice group – a role he relished as he expanded store numbers into the North Island.
Fred will be remembered by many as an icon of the local grocery industry, a fine man who was an inspiration to many and a person at the forefront of driving industry innovation.
( SupermarketNews appreciates the help of Progressive’s Mark Brosnan in providing much of this information).