New World Hokitika's new owner-operator trades the big smoke for rural paradise.
Hokitika welcomed a fresh face this month, as Ben Morrison, the new operator of New World Hokitika, steps into the role of store owner for the very first time.
Leaving the hustle and bustle of city life behind, Morrison said he's excited to trade the busy Christchurch cityscape for the tranquillity and natural beauty of the West Coast.
Christchurch-born and bred, Morrison has been craving a change of scenery for a while.
"While it's a pretty big deal moving my family to a new home hundreds of kilometres away, Foodstuffs South Island, the co-op that's behind New World on the mainland, has been endlessly supportive and provided all the help we've needed to make the transition," said Morrison.
Morrison continued that location-wise, Hokitika was amazing, adding that it's not too big and not too small and the people are amazingly welcoming. He explained that there was so much to see and do in every direction, and as an outdoorsy guy, it was inspiring.
"I'm very much looking forward to exploring this new side of the country."
Morrison brings a wealth of experience to his new role, having started his career with Foodstuffs South Island as a part-timer at Trent's Wholesale after school before moving to a role at Vodafone during his university studies and, eventually, back to the South Island co-operative in their Christchurch support centre as a buyer.
"I enjoyed the Support Centre environment, but my heart was always on the shop floor."
Morrison loves the people and the variety of the shop floor, and that every day kept him on his toes.
When working in the support centre, he was constantly looking forward to the next time he could get into a store, be around people and see firsthand the difference he was making in supermarkets and the communities they served.
Morrison has spent the last seven years working as a Store Manager at Pak'nSave Wainoni under the wing of the store's owner-operator, Marcel Grey, before becoming a co-operative member.
"I owe much of what I know to Marcel and my time spent working with the team and community at Wainoni. From day one, he was committed to sharing with me his knowledge and expertise on being a successful owner-operator."
It has been an eventful few years for Morrison. Wainoni was one of the rebuilt stores after the earthquake, so working through that was quite an experience for him. He's also helped oversee the building of a new warehouse, extended freezer storage and led the switch to electronic shelf labels, so he's helped usher in quite a few changes.
Morrison said he's looking forward to the responsibility of owning his supermarket and getting to serve as one of the central hubs of the Hokitika community.
"The previous owners have done an amazing job at looking after the community,
supporting local events and initiatives."
Morrison is planning to pick up right where they left off. He explained that it was remarkable how each New World was uniquely suited to the local community and had the flexibility to fulfil their different needs.
"One of the first steps in my store ownership journey will be to understand what the community has, what it needs and what New World Hokitika can do to support the community to thrive."
Outside of work, Morrison is an avid outdoors enthusiast and can often be found running, biking, and paddling. He recently accomplished a two-day coast-to-coast marathon and has plans to ride Motatapu in March.
"After months of preparation, my partner and our two sons have just arrived from Christchurch."
"So, as of today, we live in Hokitika! We are very excited to get stuck in."