Store bows out of Richmond 'retail war'

LAURA BASHAM
Last updated 09:13 29/07/2014
Chris Kirby
ALDEN WILLIAMS/FAIRFAX NZ
SHUTTING UP SHOP: Chris Kirby will close his Cheapskates Richmond store will be closing so the company can concentrate on the Nelson outlet.

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The owner of a store closing in Richmond predicts a retail war as big brand stores fight for customers.

The Cheapskates store on Queen St will start an end of lease closing down sale tomorrow after seven years trading.

Owner Chris Kirby said they would concentrate on their Nelson store, doing a refit and changing the product mix.

His move runs contrary to a popular belief that Nelson retail trading has suffered as Richmond prospers. It was that concern that led to the city council allowing a free parking trial in Nelson.

However, Kirby said Nelson retailers had believed the hype about the parking issue. They had been misled and were not hurting because of Richmond but because across the board spending was down.

That was the new level, and retailers needed to adjust to it.

He acknowledged KMart had made a big impact on retail spending, and expected when the Warehouse opened in Richmond at the end of next month there would be strong competition.

"With the Warehouse opening there's going to be serious war between Farmers, KMart, the Warehouse and Smith City. It's going to turn into a pretty vicious battle," he said.

While Richmond had an increasing population, it was not in Cheapskates' target market, as during the day shoppers were mostly elderly, he said.

He described the Richmond market as semi rural, and noted the impact of the loss of jobs on the West Coast was already being felt in Richmond.

He believed a longer test period was needed for free car parking in Nelson as it had been introduced when school holidays were on. "We haven't seen a dramatic change," he said.

It was wrong to say that "all" Richmond had free car parking as there were time limits that were policed, he said.

Kirby said there would be further changes in the region's retail market if big box retail developments went ahead, such as Nelson Junction, with smaller retailers suffering.

Nelson speciality stores could be retained but there was not a necessity for them to be on Trafalgar St, he said.

"If you want to reduce pricing you've got to get off the main street," he said.

His Trafalgar St store has another three years to run on its lease. He said the business operated with 30 per cent fewer staff than two years ago but would not lose any staff with the Richmond shop closing.

He said they would go to the United States on a buying trip in September and look at shopping trends.

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As part of a franchise, the business was able to take advantage of greater buying power, and more than 90 per cent of what was sold online went to the North Island.

- The Nelson Mail

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