Butcher turns grocery king

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Queenstown’s Tony Wild used to consider supermarkets “the enemy” – now he owns one.

Wild and his partner Purdey Wright took over the Fresh Choice on Gorge Road this week. Wild was previously the store manager and Wright was his assistant.

It’s a far cry from when Wild’s parents Sharon and Gilbert owned the town’s last butchery, where he worked for 12 of its 19 years.

Asked if he ever expected to own a supermarket, Wild, 38, says: “No, they were the enemy.”

But when the family business closed in 2003, he shifted next day to open Fresh Choice’s wholesale butchery.

He was then promoted, in turn, to butchery manager, fresh foods manager, assistant manager, then store boss.

Meanwhile, Wild’s partner Wright, 31, has been at Fresh Choice, initially as administration manager, since it opened 10 years ago. She’s also trained other owner/operators and office managers in the supermarket group and is no stranger to family-run enterprises.

Wright’s parents Sue and Nevin had the former Queenstown Supermarket in the Mall for 16 years.

Fresh Choice and Frankton’s New World, which started within a week of each other, were the resort’s first city-priced supermarkets.

Opening day was “crazy”, Wright recalls.

“We were quiet at the butchery that day,” Wild jokes.

The couple say they offer complementary business skills.

Wright: “We have lots of ideas for what we want to do. We really want a community focus, and to continue recycling initiatives.”

Howard Nossiter, who’s owned the supermarket for all but its first year, says he’s delighted to hand over the store to his senior managers.

“They understand the industry, the business and the town,” Nossiter says.

The business “has enjoyed growth, like everyone else, though staffing has been difficult at times”.

The payroll has about 65 staff, including 14 department heads.