Supie workers won't get paid for last two weeks after online grocer collapses

Online food retailer Supie has gone into voluntary administration owing $3 million.

It's a blow to customers and to competition in the supermarket sector.

But worst affected are the company's 120 workers - who have not only lost their jobs - but are unlikely to be paid for their last two weeks of work.

In industrial south Auckland, workers have been hustling hard to pack grocery orders for New Zealanders.

But this morning, their workplace Supie called them in for a meeting - where they lost their jobs on the spot.

"There were lots of tears, a few people were angry - now people are stressing out because it's so close to Christmas and we have bills to pay," said ex-Supie worker Anthony Bunce.

They were told they would not be paid for their last two weeks of work and their annual leave has gone too - the summer holiday they'd been planning for would be spent searching for work instead.

"We are employed under Workerly and not Supie. Supie holds the assets. Workerly holds nothing," Bunce said. "So, there's no money to give us."

Founder Sarah Balle, who launched the company in 2021, told Newshub she is devastated about the closure of Supie.

"I have put absolutely everything into Supie, but I'm so grateful for all Supie's supporters - employees, customers, suppliers and shareholders," she said.

"Together, we fought so hard to introduce competition in the market so that Kiwis could get a fairer deal for their groceries. I won't be commenting further for now, as there is much work to do over the coming days to assist the administrators."

When we visited the site today, administrators confirmed the workers' worst-case scenario - they won't get anything.

"At the moment, we need to make some enquiries but based on what we understand, we consider it unlikely," PWC administrator Stephen Price told Newshub.

And if you've ordered groceries, it's not yet known if that order will be fulfilled.

To the workers, the business had seemed healthy.

"As far as I was told, we were just going up and up - so it caught me off guard," said Supie ex-chiller manager Chris Goodall.

Supie had more than 60,000 users and it was growing fast. This year it expanded outside of Auckland into Bay of Plenty and Waikato. And workers told us just on Tuesday it had clocked its highest number of orders ever.

But an insider told Newshub a key investor had bailed on the company after its on-paper value was slashed amid a tough economy.

In an interview with RNZ earlier this year, Supie's founder complained of pressure from suppliers to raise its prices.

Balle said: "We can't confirm that the duopoly is putting pressure on our suppliers, but for them to request us to increase our retail prices means that there is some pressure coming from somewhere."

In any case, its closure is bad news for the prospects of cheaper grocery prices in New Zealand.

"We are crying out for more players to take on the duopoly. And I guess it is a sign for how difficult it is for businesses to enter this market and compete effectively," said Consumer NZ CEO Jon Duffy.

"It's always disappointing when a potential competitor isn't successful. It reemphasises why I'm so focused on making sure suppliers support new entrants to the market," added Grocery Commissioner Pierre van Heerden.

The Grocery Commissioner said he's trying to make this kind of closure less likely but warns our grocery market will take time to improve.