Chocolate shoe shuffle

Last updated 09:06 12/02/2013
Hannahs

RELOCATION: Hannahs' new Porirua warehouse and head office in Todd Park. Its old base is being taken over by the Whittaker's chocolate firm.

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TWO of Porirua's biggest companies have been involved in big property deals.

Chocolate maker J J Whittaker and Sons has bought a large warehouse next to its Porirua factory and head office and is planning to enlarge its administration block as it looks to boost export sales.

It has paid $4 million for the Hannahs warehouse at 20 Mahuia Cres and the shoe company is shifting its head office and and warehouse to the former Mitsubishi assembly plant at Todd Park.

Hannahs has been based in the Mohuia Cres property for the past 15 years. Its 4000 square metre warehouse on a 1ha site was owned by Litcom Custodians.

Hannahs has now taken a new 10-year lease at Todd Park.

From July it will occupy similar sized warehouse space and new offices created from the former Todd Park admin and services block.

The former assembly plant, now owned by Rockport Holdings of Auckland, had benefited from several major leasings in the past few months, said property broker Chris Gollins.

The Porirua Placemakers operation moved into Todd Park last year and another international tenant is about to be announced.

Gollins negotiated the back-to-back transactions with Whittaker and Hannahs after Whittaker had made previous attempts to acquire the property.

"The complexity of the requirements of the four parties involved provided one or two challenges."

He said he was grateful that Whittaker engaged Doug Buchanan of Optimax Property Advisory to deal with earthquake, fire protection and other specialist issues that arose.

Whittaker export manager Matt Whittaker said the company was approximately doubling its footprint in Porirua and described it as a strategic purchase.

The warehouse would be used to store raw materials and free up space in its adjoining factory as it planned to gear up production for export into new markets in the United States, Asia and the Middle East.

It was also about to extend its office block, doubling the space for administration, a staff cafe, bigger locker rooms and associated facilities for its expanding workforce.

The company recently spent $10m on a new Swiss-made 5-roll refiner, its biggest investment in new plant.

Whittaker, which was established in Wellington in 1896, moved out to Porirua in 1969 and now employs more than 80 staff. The company is privately owned and operated by the Whittaker family.

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- The Dominion Post

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