Julia Spence, owner of New World Prestons.

Living and breathing the grocery business since she was a nipper – Julia Spence is the owner of New World Prestons, which is about to open its doors in a new subdivision in Christchurch.

“I went to my first Foodstuffs conference with my parents at six weeks old,” says Julia Spence, “and I’ve really never considered anything other than being a grocer ever since.”

Spence says: “I bought my first store, a Four Square in Akaroa aged 24. The grocery business is in my genes and I truly believe this is one of the most exciting and innovation-rich industries to be in right now.”

Spence is one of a growing number of woman owners in the Foodstuffs co-operative and she’s really making a mark. “It’s so inspiring to see so many women taking up the challenge of operating these large businesses, which not only employ in excess of 100 staff. We are major contributors to our local communities in all sorts of meaningful ways, and we’re supporting fantastic suppliers who manufacture and produce top notch products.”

The New World Prestons store will feature some fantastic innovations including the ‘vertical wall’ in the produce department. The refrigeration shelving system allows Julia and her team to display fruit and vegetables with minimal plastic packaging. This simple change, which has been rolled out in a few other Christchurch stores, is resulting in the most positive feedback from customers that owners have ever received. The new system works by misting the produce with water to keep it fresh and is doing such a great job that stores have very little wastage each week.

On offer will be extensive ranges of organic, sugar-free and gluten-free products filling a need for locals and sitting alongside the best fresh food and quality groceries.

“Our new store is large, airy and full of natural light. Our customers will love it – but importantly our team will too. We have fantastic spaces out the back, which will make working here even more enjoyable. We’ve had people lining up at the local Scout Hall, where we ran our recruitment, to join our team and locals have been stopping by daily dying to know when they can do their first shop. We’re so looking forward to the 1st of February.”

The proud Mainlander, born and bred in Oamaru, will be joined by her nearly five-year-old son and her partner (who also works in the store) on a long-awaited opening day. “At last I’ll be able to say ‘yes’, when someone asks ‘are you open yet?”

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