Slow Christchurch rebuild 'a tragedy'

MARTA STEEMAN
Last updated 09:02 09/07/2014

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Award-winning Christchurch business leader Mark Waller says the slowness of the Christchurch city rebuild is a tragedy.

Speaking to a business audience yesterday, Christy, Waller, the managing director of Ebos, a large supplier of pharmaceutical and medical supplies, was talking about the lessons learned from 20 years running Ebos where he led 19 purchases of other businesses.

He said "awful hours" had to be worked at times to make and bed in acquisitions and grow a company, and setting ambitious goals was important.

"I think it's one of the tragedies of the rebuild that we didn't set enough ambitious timelines."

After the speech Waller said he was talking from a business perspective and his experience. "While a national disaster is completely different, we have had long enough," he said.

Waller said he would like to have seen the city concentrate on a few key projects and get them started to inject confidence rather than it do "a little bit of everything".

"I think it's starting now but it's taken too long, based on my experience."

He considered the Convention Centre was an important anchor project for the city but it did not need a new sports stadium right now.

Waller pulled off a $1.1 billion purchase last year when Ebos bought Symbion in Australia, more than three times its size, making Ebos the largest Australasian wholesaler and distributor of healthcare, medical and pharmaceutical products and a leading player in animal care products.

Ebos recently nailed down a 10-year contract with the Government to run the public health system supply chain for 20 district health boards. Waller said at the annual meeting last year that that contract would make it very influential in the health sector here.

In May Ebos won a number of accolades at the Institute of Finance Professionals New Zealand awards related to the Symbion acquisition. Waller won the leadership award while the company won the merger and acquisitions transaction of the year and the equity issue award.

He told the business audience yesterday that a company had to keep innovating and reviewing its business model if it wanted to grow and gain scale as Ebos had over the past 20 years.

That created "automatic unrest and challenge" in an organisation. Roughly every five years the company reinvented its business model. The company had spent 20 years trying to become influential and finally it was, he said.

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