Better times seen for motels

CHLOE WINTER
Last updated 07:38 04/03/2014

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A total of 53 Marlborough businesses are currently listed for sale or lease on Trade Me, but real estate experts say this is not necessarily a bad sign for the region.

The businesses on offer ranged from motels and backpackers hostels, to hairdressers and mobile food carts.

Harcourts Marlborough sales and marketing consultant Ross Ayson said normally there were 30 to 40 businesses up for sale in Marlborough at any one time, but 51 was not a shock to him.

"It's not uncommon at all.

"It comes and goes, but businesses are hard to sell at the moment unless they are profitable."

There were also a lot of businesses up for lease in the region, he said.

"But leases are hard to sell at the moment . . . Again, I think the problem is the rent is too high and it is hard to make a living out of it."

Certain businesses would struggle to sell, like video stores and book shops, as more people went online for entertainment, Mr Ayson said.

Marlborough Motel Association president Noel Noble said a Blenheim motel that sold last month was the first in Marlborough to sell in 2 years.

He said some accommodation providers had been wanting to sell up for a while but there had been a low confidence in accommodation and tourism in Marlborough.

"I think the momentum is starting again.

"Right at the moment the motel industry is showing a great deal [more] confidence than what they had 24 months ago - the sun is actually shining now."

The economic downturn in 2008 and the earthquakes last year affected people's confidence in buying into the accommodation industry, Mr Noble said. "Because of the downturn, no-one has been interested in buying.

"[But] that's over now - well and truly."

Asked if he thought there were simply too many accommodation providers in Marlborough, he said: "If you ask me that question in the winter, I'll say yes. If you ask me in the summer, I'll say no."

Mr Noble's Blenheim motel, Aston Court, was one of the 51 businesses listed on Trade Me.

He was selling the lease to his motel because it was time for him to retire, he said.

"Most motel owners are in the older age bracket, so they normally have a five- to 10-year term that they aim for.

"So there is a backlog of people coming up for retirement."

He and his wife Trish bought the motel lease in 2010 and had a short-term plan, Mr Noble said.

"We came here in 2010 with the idea of staying here for five years," he said.

"Four years are up so we are trying to list it because they don't sell overnight. Then I'll retire because I am of that age."

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Trade Me spokesman Paul Ford said the overall number of businesses for sale in Marlborough had risen 8 per cent between 2012 and 2013. Most businesses for sale in Marlborough fell into the tourism and hospitality category, he said.

- The Marlborough Express

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