Richmond loses another shop

TRACY NEAL
Last updated 12:59 31/07/2014
Ann Banks
MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ
CLOSING DOWN: Neil Barnes, co-owner of Baku in Queen St, Richmond, is closing the business.

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Richmond is to lose another niche retailer to what its owner says is changing trends in shopping, and fewer people walking around lower Queen St.

Cookware and homeware store Baku, which has been operating in Richmond for 12 years, will have its final day on August 29.

Co-owner and director Neil Barnes and his wife Rosie, who took over the business around six years ago, told the four part-time staff this week that their jobs would end with the store's closure.

They plan to go out in a blaze of glory with a significant closing down sale from now until the final day.

"This has been a difficult decision, however with declining sales caused by a number of factors, and with the current lease expiring in October, it was the sensible option," Neil Barnes said.

He said duty-free and internet shopping, and national retailers discounting products, and some brands "devaluing themselves" by supplying the big-box retailers was spelling the end for the small, local independent retailer.

"We're a top-end shop and there has always been a limited number of people in this region with $1000 to spend on a food mixer."

Barnes said the recession had not helped, but neither had key suppliers by "dumbing down" brands now sold by big-box retailers. Another factor was the declining amount of foot traffic in the area of Queen St, as activity was diverted by development further up the street.

Barnes said the business had been on the market for about six months, but had attracted little interest.

"It's such a niche business and while the cost of it was not great, the stock runs into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"The fact it didn't sell led to this difficult decision."

He stressed the closure was not a receivership or liquidation.

"All creditors have been paid and there are no amounts owed to banks or the IRD. If, however, the business had continued to trade that may not have been the case, Barnes said.

"We are very sorry for our loyal customers and especially our amazing staff."

Baku was named by the previous owners who started the business, and is a homage to the capital of Azerbaijan, bordered by Iran and the Caspian Sea, where they had lived.

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