Retailer's disaster plan actioned

Last updated 05:00 11/12/2012
smiths city

GRAND REOPENING: Smiths City’s Matt Haque checks on the time before opening the doors.

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Retail chain Smiths City's flagship store and group head office building on Colombo St was badly damaged in the February quake. The car-park building collapsed but fortunately no staff or customers were injured.

The company's disaster recovery plan - which had been drawn up in case of a fire at one of its stores - was put into action and head office moved to the Alectra site on Watts Rd in Upper Riccarton within days of the earthquake.

Smiths City's risk management programme had also ensured the company had adequate insurance cover.

The Colombo St store was off-limits within the inner city for several months before workers could get in to repair the building. The retailer's Powerstore on Moorhouse Ave was closed for more than a year due to earthquake damage.

However, the group's stores that were still open in Christchurch -  Smiths City Riccarton and Northwood and Powerstore Riccarton and Northwood, traded extremely well as several competitors' stores were closed due to quake damage.

There was a ''bulge'' in demand for electrical products after the February and June quakes.

The pre-Christmas market last year was also strong as EQC settled a significant number of contents claims between October and December. The Colombo St store reopened in November last year and was able to take full advantage of that. The store, repaired and rebuilt, is  two-thirds its former size but is generating more than two-thirds the revenue of the previous store, punching above its weight, Smiths City managing director Rick Hellings says.

The site now falls within a ''mixed-use zone'' designated by the new central city plan which restricts office space in the zone to 450 square metres. Smiths City wants to move its head office back to Colombo St, where it had operated for more than 90 years, but needs a larger office area. It is working through the resource consent process with the city council.

Its Moorhouse Ave Powerhouse store reopened in October this year.

The group more than doubled its annual net profit to $4.38 million for the year to April 30, helped by a strong South Island rural economy and its resilient operations in Christchurch.

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- The Press

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