Not 'total doom and gloom'
Job losses are still likely but Marlborough's economy is getting better "under the bonnet", ANZ Bank chief economist Cameron Bagrie says.
Mr Bagrie, in Blenheim yesterday to speak at client functions, said there was still "structural adjustment" to come in economies such as Marlborough's, which would mean job losses still to come as well.
His comments came in the same week that dried fruit supplier Annies announced it had gone into receivership with the loss of at least 30 jobs, Safe Air confirmed the loss of 69 jobs, and building company TH Barnes was reported to be closing its doors.
However, under that, there was still a positive story, Mr Bagrie said.
"It's two steps forward, one step back."
Mr Bagrie said there were positive drivers that could be seen in Marlborough - "the grape price moving up, so that industry moving up, the structural changes in agriculture. This region also picked up what's happening in Christchurch. Everyone is still benefiting from low interest rates."
But there was still a lot of underlying tension, he said, and pending adjustment. This applied nationally, not just in Marlborough.
"The balance sheet is still impaired. People are still not saving. They're not rushing to spend either - it's a tough time in retail."
Job losses this week in Marlborough were "a bit of a reminder that what got New Zealand into a pickle in 2008" was not over yet, he said, and the stresses were still going to be around for a long time.
However, he praised developments such as the Marlborough Research Centre's Food and Beverage Initiative cluster, which he described as "tremendously structurally important for where NZ Inc is going".
New Zealand did not lack opportunities overseas for food and beverage exports, but it was important to have a strategy to achieve those opportunities, he said.
While New Zealand was the richest country in the world in terms of natural resources, you could still be rich in resources but lacking in execution, "like the Blues rugby team", he said.
"We have to avoid own goals, like three food safety scares in a year."
Independent economic anthropologist Amanda Lynn, who is studying entrepreneurship in the Marlborough economy for her PhD, said the global financial crisis was really hard on food and beverage companies in Marlborough.
"There has been some structural instability caused here by that . . . I wouldn't say Annie's was any different," she said. "But it's a strong brand and the client affected is not pulling out."
She said she did not believe Annies problems were an "intrinsic structural thing". The job losses were a shock to the company, but there were good indicators the client relationship was not damaged.
Mayor Alistair Sowman said he didn't see the job losses as "total doom and gloom", as each company had different circumstances.
Safe Air was largely reliant on defence contracts, he said. While it was owned by Air New Zealand, it did little Air New Zealand work.
"It is disappointing, but at the end of the day, the company will move ahead. They're repositioning themselves to move them into a better position.
"I have no doubt Annie's will re-emerge. This is unfortunate, but the company is good and the product excellent, it's selling well.
"TH Barnes, well, they want to concentrate on other areas rather than contracting. It's obviously a decision made by their board."
Mr Sowman said, with the Christchurch rebuild, there would be a demand for the skills of their former workers.
- The Marlborough Express