Closing pie shop reprieve as landlord figures out fix

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Pam Robertson, of Leith Valley, is pleased Marlow Pies is remaining open in central Dunedin. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINU

A Dunedin pie shop set to close has been served a last-minute reprieve.

When The Star visited Marlow Pies on Monday, its two staff had been just told by their boss the Crawford St shop was set to close in four days’ time.

Loyal customer Pam Robertson said she was “absolutely gutted” at the announcement because she was a regular visitor to the shop, which had “great food and lovely staff”.

When The Star called the boss, Bernie’s Bakery HQ director Bernie Sugrue, of Timaru, he said after he told the staff of the upcoming closure, he called his North Island-based landlord to tell him his plans to “shut up shop”.

The landlord floated the idea of keeping the shop open.

“At this stage, it’s business as normal with me supplying the product and the landlord being the new owner.”

The landlord would continue the business as he continued searching for a buyer.

“We have a couple of people in the pipeline. It’s a damn good opportunity for somebody.”

The lease for the shop was up for renewal, so he had been attempting to sell the eatery as a going concern.

“If I sign another six-year lease and someone buys it and in a year’s time they can’t make it work, then I’m stuck with another five years and that’s too scary for me.

“I’ve been burnt too many times doing that.”

Marlow Pies had been made in factories in South Dunedin and Kaikorai Valley before he moved production to his bakery in Timaru more than five years ago.

From Timaru, he continued to supply some schools, supermarkets and service stations in Dunedin and the shop in Crawford St.

He once supplied pies to University of Otago in Dunedin but the contract was dropped when pies were incorrectly delivered to Christchurch rather than Dunedin.

“One of our biggest problems is logistics getting stuff out. We get it out on time but that doesn’t mean the delivery companies do.”

In Timaru, he also made McGregor’s Pies and May’s Pies.

“We make about 25,000 pies a week in Timaru.”

Factors behind the decision to sell the Dunedin shop included difficulties running a business remotely, he said.

If the shop did close, pies would be supplied to other retailers in Dunedin.

“Without a doubt,” Mr Sugrue said.