Mountain Designs to exit NZ shores

END NEAR:  Mountain Designs Nelson shop in Halifax St is closing.
END NEAR: Mountain Designs Nelson shop in Halifax St is closing.

Nelson outdoor clothing and equipment store Mountain Designs in Halifax St has fallen casualty to a decision by its Australian owners to close all its New Zealand outlets.

The company is blaming a "slow economy" for its decision and announced to customers yesterday that "difficult trading times in New Zealand" meant it was no longer viable to keep the 12 North and South Island stores open.

As many as 70 jobs around the country would be affected by the closures and the company was doing everything it could to help its employees find new work or retrain, Mountain Designs brand and marketing director Gavin Flannery said.

The manager of the Nelson store declined to comment today on how many of its staff would be affected. Flannery said the company was doing all it could to look after the staff.

"A lot of them have worked for Mountain Designs and been very passionate about their work for many years."

A "saturated" market with too much competition and a small population had left the company with little choice but to pull the pin, Flannery said. "The stores would be closed down over a gradual process, probably prior to the Christmas period, but nothing is confirmed." He said the company was still negotiating leases with landlords at all the stores.

Like many international retailers Mountain Designs had struggled to stay afloat in the New Zealand market over the last few years. "There's five or six retailers in New Zealand that do the same stuff as us and the travel and outdoors market has become saturated."

Christchurch's earthquakes, the slow economy and North Island droughts had also contributed to lost profit, he said.

Mountain Designs was established in Brisbane in 1975 by a young climber, Rick White. The brand has been operating in New Zealand for more than a decade.

The 47 retail stores across the Tasman were expected to continue to "grow and strengthen in the Australian retail market". Returns, exchanges and gift cards would be accepted from Kiwi customers, as well as special delivery options and offers through the website.

The Nelson Mail