Foodstuffs sends choppers and Starlink kits to reopen stores after the cyclone

Foodstuffs sends choppers and Starlink kits to reopen stores after the cyclone

In the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle, severe flooding and road slips have isolated several towns in the Coromandel, East Cape, Gisborne and Hawkes Bay regions. 

Four Squares, New Worlds and PAK’nSAVEs in the affected areas were struggling to maintain business continuity due to disruptions to business-critical systems and electronic payment platforms. In response to this urgent need, Foodstuffs North Island’s IT team and its partners deployed Starlink kits, satellite-based internet solutions, to help affected stores open for business and to continue serving their communities. 

Each Starlink kits consists of a small satellite dish that can be quickly and easily installed on the roof of each supermarket. Once installed, the dishes can connect to the Starlink satellite network, providing a reliable and high-speed internet connection that’s essential for EFTPOS units at the checkouts. Online connection to a bank’s system is a requirement of every modern chip and pin card and the internet’s also essential for back of house ordering, reporting, pricing functions and enabling fuel sites to open. 

Adam Beretta Owner Operator of Four Square Waimamaku receives connectivity with a Starlink kit.

Getting the configured Starlinks out to stores required working with multiple field teams and was led by Carl Layton, User Technology Manager for Foodstuffs North Island who said: “With our usual courier service unavailable we’ve had our IT technicians transport the kits across the North Island to get to the right stores. There’s always going to be nerves sending our technicians into isolated areas without cell phone coverage. We’ve had to test, test again and then hope for the best. Being flown in by choppers over the devastation caused by a cyclone is not the normal day for an IT technician.”

The deployment of the Starlink kits has been met with tremendous relief and gratitude from the affected store owners. Sam Wanklyn, Owner Operator of Four Square Wainui Road in Gisborne said: “We’re still cut off here in Gisborne. My store lost connectivity at 4am on Tuesday which meant we couldn’t trade. By 10am Wednesday the team had flown in a Starlink kit and IT technician and had gotten us back online and operational. It’s meant we’ve been able to open our doors and provide groceries to our community when they’ve really needed it. We’re starting to get more stock through now and the feedback from the community is that everyone is pretty happy being able to get the essentials.”

To date, Foodstuffs North Island has been able to deploy Starlink kits to PAK’nSAVE Gisborne, New World Wairoa, Four Square Wainui Road, Four Square Tokomaru Bay, Four Square Eastern, Four Square Ruatoria and Four Square Waimamaku. 

Foodstuffs North Island remains committed to supporting affected communities as they recover from the devastation caused by Cyclone Gabrielle. The deployment of Starlink kits is just one example of the ongoing efforts to help these communities get back on their feet.

Stores are getting deliveries

All PAK’nSAVE and New World stores are open again nationwide and all stores are now getting deliveries of stock.

Foodstuffs NI CEO Chris Quin says: “We’re getting to all but one of our stores by road now. The only store we can’t get to by road right now is Four Square Tokomaru Bay on the East Coast – we’ll continue to get essentials to the store by helicopter until we can reach the store with a truck. We’d like to say a huge thank you to all our drivers who’ve gone above and beyond, battling through in the most extreme of circumstances to make sure we can get the essentials through.”

Every locally owned New World and PAK’nSAVE has a direct link to at least one foodbank, food rescue, or social supermarket partner and Foodstuffs have been working with them and other community organisations and charities in the wake of the recent Auckland floods and Cyclone Gabrielle.

“In the last few weeks, our HereforNZ team has pledged over $300,000 worth of product, or cash funding to support the immediate need and in the next week, we’ll be increasing our support as we work with our community partners,” says Quin.

“We’d like to say a huge thank you to our teams, supplier partners, communities, absolutely everyone who’s pulled together to help get all the stores affected by the cyclone back up and running. It’s a really stressful time so we’re asking to please remember to be respectful to each other and our team members when you shop with us, we’re all going through a lot and we’re in this together. Kia kaha, take care.”

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