Russell and Lesley Jeffries came to Tekapo in 1985 for an exciting opportunity to part own a small service station and
store in Lake Tekapo. This store grew to become a Four Square which included fuel and a standalone premises.

Their son Jason spent his childhood working in and around the store growing a passion for the industry. It was when he came back from his OE that he met his future wife Casey who happened to be working at Tekapo Four Square.

“As a family, we love the fast-paced ever-changing world of the FMCG and have an absolute passion for customer service. Lake Tekapo was the drawcard for all of us, it is an amazing spot and to have the opportunity to do something we love in such a beautiful place is amazing,” said Jason.

Being situated in such a unique location means that the Jeffries’ must cater to a large number of tourists. This means the team at Tekapo Four Square need to have a good selection of on-the-go options available. “We have a purpose-built food-to-go kitchen and displays as well as a full-time team of two producing and developing food-to-go options and three part-time staff.

“As needed, we will increase staff to this area and increase the time spent in the department.” Jeffries sees food-to-go as one of the biggest growth opportunities in the industry. “Food-to-go is our biggest push for growth at the moment, and we continue to see people with less time who need good quality, healthy convenient options. Food-to-go has endless opportunities and our department is set up to grow at a great rate.”

In addition to food-to-go, Jeffries has also seen rapid growth in the health food aisle. “We are continuing to grow our offering of health foods and are bringing in new lines of these great products weekly.” As part of the store’s focus on healthy options, Tekapo Four Square has been growing all of its fresh departments. “Customer focus is pushing further and further towards fresh products and this is where our in-store butchery and produce departments really excel.”

The town of Tekapo is growing at a fast rate which means that the team has had to adapt and work hard to keep up with both local customer and tourist demand. “As Tekapo is growing at a breakneck pace we are looking to keep up with demand and the ever-changing customer focus. We want to be the supermarket locals and tourists come together to shop at. We aim to cater to their every need and hope to continue to exceed their expectations.” 2017 saw the opening of a new store, which Jeffries credits as being one of the family’s greatest achievement to date. “As a family, the greatest achievement would have to be opening the new premises. Our store grew from 250m2 container storage and 20 staff to an over 900m2 purpose-built supermarket with 40 staff.”

This new store footprint has given the team at Tekapo Four Square more space to work with. “The open, uncluttered feel of the aisles is something that we think is a highlight of the store. When you walk in you are surrounded by fresh food. The first thing you see is the food-to-go island with an abundance of fresh produce behind it; the store then flows into our bakery and butchery departments.”

The flow of the store isn’t the only thing that the Jeffries credit as being a unique aspect of the store. “We can’t forget the view from the store windows in our frozen food department.” The layout of the store makes for not only an enjoyable place for customers to shop but also an enjoyable place for the staff to work. “We are lucky to have very helpful, friendly staff who want to be working within this space.”

In addition to being located in such a beautiful New Zealand location, being part of a great community is also a highlight for the Jeffries. “We are the local hub where people come together in the community. In most conversations you will hear something about the Four Square”. The team at Tekapo Four Square are a big part of the community, attending as many community events as they can and offering support when needed. They are also supporters of Tekapo Ice Hockey and The Bright Stars Trust which act on behalf of the Lake Tekapo School and Kindergarten.

“We are a true believer in always looking after the locals, and this also applies to our many overseas and out of town customers. If it weren’t for the staff and the customers, we wouldn’t be here.” The store has a great number of different cultures and people that the Jeffries’ employ who are passionate about their job. “Our staff treat the customers as the reason for their job and give them top priority. At Tekapo Four Square we feel as though one of the biggest opportunities in the grocery industry is to stay in tune with what our customers want, offer the best service, talk to the customer and make the supermarket a place where people want to be and also work.”

Recently the team has noticed the impact that social media can have on a business. The Jeffries’ have seen massive growth in customer reviews online including on social media and Google. “We are stoked to see a number of great reviews coming through from our customers without being prompted. It really shows we have developed a team who really want to be here and take exceptional pride in their work.”

Sustainability is still top of mind for consumers, retailers and producers. “Where possible, we are removing plastic packaging from fresh departments, our cardboard is bailed and recycled, and we also have a strict recycling programme in the departments that ensures any items able to be recycled are.” The team sees the shift towards sustainability as one of the biggest challenges the grocery industry is currently facing. “It is challenging to do our bit to protect the planet but ultimately rewarding.” As part of being sustainable and supporting the community, the Jeffries’ are introducing more and more local produce into the store. “We have amazing local suppliers like Jo O’Neill’s Eggs and Mount Cook Salmon, and the list is growing.”

Regarding future developments in the store, the Jeffries’ are turning their attention towards category development, ranging changes and NPD. “We will also continue to develop food-to-go with new, exciting choices. As we are a relatively new store our wish list for store development has been pretty well ticked off. Looking forward we will be setting ourselves goals to continue growing by implementing new things for our customers.”