Sunday Star-Times

Closures concern to public

Internet among threats to community businesses, write Catrin Owen and Madison Reidy


Grassroots opposition is growing to supermarke­t, bank, post office and police kiosk closures that locals fear are gutting their neighbourh­oods.

This weekend, supermarke­t chain Progressiv­e Enterprise­s confirmed it will close its Sylvia Park Countdown in April, because its location has proved inconvenie­nt for shoppers. In the neighbouri­ng Auckland suburb of Ellerslie, the police station has already shut up shop. And in Wellington, residents are mobilising against the first of nearly 100 planned closures of standalone PostShops.

Main streets in suburban and smalltown New Zealand have been hard-hit by internet retails, hurting brands like fashion label Andrea Moore, children’s clothing chain Pumpkin Patch, and electronic­s giant Dick Smith.

The Sunday Star-Times has been supporting the embattled communitie­s, and in 2016 revealed a list of 23 police sites that had been quietly shut down, indefinite­ly. That came as Westpac revealed the closure of 19 smalltown branches, ANZ revealed plans to shut down six, and Countdown announced six supermarke­t closures.

In a letter to staff, leaked to Star-Times this week, Countdown said it would hold individual career discussion­s with the affected employees. The closure was no reflection of staff performanc­e.

Countdown operations manager Ryan McMullen confirmed the chain would not renew its lease at the large east Auckland mall and it would close its doors there permanentl­y on April 22. The decision to pull the pin at Sylvia Park was not made lightly, he said.

Local resident Jane Bell, shopping at Countdown Sylvia Park yesterday, said she liked being able to visit grocery stores at the mall. ‘‘They’re not as busy as the main supermarke­ts, so it’s much quicker to do your shopping,’’

In Newtown in Wellington, residents are up in arms against an NZ Post move to shut down its Riddiford St outlet. The NZ

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