Born and bred in the Manawatu with three older sisters, Tim Wilson started out early in the grocery industry as an old-school milk boy. Although considering his current career, this wasn’t a conscious decision on his part.

“As a young boy I don’t remember having one set thing I wanted to be, but I was certain I wanted to own something for myself, Wilson told Supermarket News. “I have always had an ability to work hard and have a creative mind and knew running my own business would be great.”

Wilson has slowly worked his way up through the Foodstuffs ranks, joining in 2012 as owner/operator of Four Square Matakana after studying for a business degree at Victoria University Wellington. He sold the store in 2015 after being invited on the Trainee Operator Programme. In July 2016 he took ownership of New World Flaxmere. The Foodstuffs model appealed to him, as it was 100 percent New Zealand owned. “I see it as a business with an impressive history and capacity for even greater things in the future – I wanted to be part of it.”

Wilson enjoys Flaxmere and the wide range of customers he encounters. “I always find it reassuring when people appreciate changes you make to ‘their store’.” Such changes include the introduction of a takeaway ‘boil-up’ – pork bone, watercress and seasonal vegetables – with rewena bread, a product which Wilson says appeals to the high proportion of Pacific Island and Maori customers in Flaxmere. “Having meaningful engagement with a wide range of groups is very rewarding,” he said. “I also value becoming part of the community.”

“Many of our customers struggle financially from time to time,” he explains. “We try to encourage them to rationalise spending on necessary items and not take short cuts and offer us invisible IOU notes.”

Further to being a husband to Joanna and a father to five-month-old Summer, Wilson has in place a professional and personal development plan. “Without boring you, I am very goals driven,” he said. “But at a basic level, I would like to be a strong grocer who supports and develops the Foodstuffs brand. It’s great being able to help others reach their goals so it would be awesome to see some of my current and future employees get into ownership.”

With an attitude like that, it’s hard to see Wilson leaving the industry anytime soon.

“Food is unlikely to go out of fashion, and as long as we keep up with the changing market, we should be ok.”