Fast relocation kept quake-hit firms alive

TAMLYN STEWART
Last updated 07:40 31/10/2012

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Winning the race to find new premises in the western suburbs of Christchurch ensured the survival of many businesses after the February 2011 earthquake.

Hi-tech manufacturer Enatel and web development company Hairy Lemon were two of those - Enatel relocating to Wigram and Hairy Lemon to Hornby.

Enatel managing director Gary Foot said one advantage of relocating was that the business, previously spread across four separate business sites in St Asaph and Tuam streets, was now in one much larger site in Wigram.

The hi-tech manufacturer produces standby power supplies for the telecommunications industry and solar inverters which convert electricity from solar panels into electricity suitable for everyday use.

Enatel's new location is close to the airport but traffic congestion was a problem. Morning and afternoon rush hours were "just a nightmare", Foot said.

But it was something to "grin and bear" because all the activity in the area was rebuild-related.

The firm was paying higher rent than before the earthquake but that was because its premises were much larger, Foot said. "But clearly there has been a significant increase in rental as a result of the earthquake."

Before the quake, one site had been offered for $100,000 a year, on a three-year lease, Foot said. Immediately after the quake, the landlord for that site had wanted a 10-year lease for $200,000 a year.

Another tenant accepted those terms within 48 hours.

Fortunately the firm had had its eye on its Wigram site before the September quake and was able to negotiate a seven-year lease. The company spent $1 million on a new fitout.

Web development company Hairy Lemon co-founder Graham Dockrill said its relocation to Hornby had been vital.

"Finding facilities that allowed us to continue business after the event, that continuity of business was incredibly important."

However the location, fit-out and size of its Hornby office was "not ideal", with only about half the office space of their former Victoria St site.

Rent was similar to what the firm had been paying in Victoria St.

The firm is returning to the city centre and is about to sign a lease for new premises.

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