The Warehouse leaves Wainuiomata earlier than planned after suffering quake damage
Wainuiomata Mall's largest tenant will not be reopening after it was forced to close following the deadly 7.8 magnitude earthquake.
The Warehouse brought its closing date forward after the store sustained damage during the quake. It was one of many stores in the mall that closed to assess damage and carry out repairs.
The Warehouse originally planned to close in early 2017 - at the end of its lease - due to falling shopper numbers and the popularity of other nearby branches.
"Based on the store's current state, the wellbeing of our team members and the limited timeframe before the store's lease-end, we've taken the decision not to reopen for what would only be a period of a few weeks," chief executive Simon Turner said.
"We acknowledge that the decision will be disappointing for local customers wanting to get their Christmas shopping done, but the wellbeing of our team is paramount and we believe it is unfair for them to return to a store which has been impacted by an earthquake, only to leave again in a few weeks' time."
The initial decision to close the Wainuiomata store followed a careful review of options with factors considered such as the volume of people making use of the store, its size, the products on offer there and the popularity of other stores nearby.
Ultimately, there had been a decline over time of those visiting The Warehouse Wainuiomata store, which meant the store was not commercially sustainable long-term, Turner said.
"We found that an increasing number of people in the areas were choosing to shop in the recently-refurbished Petone store."
In April, it was revealed the company had been mulling over whether or not to renew its lease, which ends in February.
The decision was put on hold while talks were held with the mall's owners and manager Oyster Property Group, based in Auckland, about its redevelopment.
That followed residents' concerns, voiced earlier this year, that the mall, which is in desperate need of a facelift, was on a "downward spiral".
It has long been flagged for redevelopment, for which Hutt City Council granted resource consent in 2014.
Under those plans, most of the existing mall was to be demolished, except the Countdown supermarket and The Warehouse. A different layout would have had space for 28 shops.
Turner said because the closure was happening earlier than expected the company would offer Wainuiomata locals subsidised bus fares to nearby stores.
But this would exclude the Lower Hutt Warehouse, as it was also closed after structural damage was found to parts of Queensgate Mall and the car park.
An Oyster Property Group spokeswoman confirmed Wainuiomata Mall had reopened, after being closed for two weeks.