'It can only get better'

16:00, Dec 10 2012
cheesemonger
BACK IN BUSINESS: Canterbury Cheesemongers’ Sarah Aspinwall.

Canterbury Cheesemongers were ousted from their Salisbury St premises when earthquake damage to neighbouring buildings in the September 4 quake forced the demolition of their shop.

For four months business owners Sarah and Martin Aspinwall traded out of their garage and a temperature-controlled van.

The business did not have business interruption insurance when the September quake hit and for the four months without a shop, revenue was only 30 per cent of what it was compared with the same period the previous year.

Canterbury Cheesemongers reopened in the old registry building at the Arts Centre on Montreal St in mid-January last year.

The previously debt-free business had to secure bridging finance to see it through their reduced trading for the four months, and take out a bank loan to set up in their new shop.

Sarah Aspinwall said 2011, with the February, June and December quakes had been challenging. The quake on December 23  meant the artisan cheesemakers lost a lot of trade as that is traditionally their busiest day of the year.

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''One of the major challenges has been the publicity around the Arts Centre being closed.''

As the only remaining tenant in the Arts Centre after the February quake, the cheesemongers had felt quite isolated, Sarah said. Other retailers had formed clusters such as the Victoria St retail precinct, or the Re:Start mall.

However, that was changing. There were more tourists visiting the store and lunchtime customers from offices nearby such as the Christchurch City Council, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) and the hospital. However, trade could still be erratic, with some very quiet afternoons.

Its restaurant supply business had also started to recover.

''We lost just about all our restaurants in the quake and they are slowly reopening or opening in other places.''

Revenue was probably about 6 or 8 per cent up on this time last year.

But Aspinwall says one can't blame the earthquake for ever.

''Retail has always been challenging and very up and down.

''I'm confident there will be more retail around us in the next few years.

''With the Convention Centre, and the retail precinct ... it can only get better.''

However, insurance was four times more expensive than it had been before the February earthquake.

''We're really hoping as the insurance market gains more confidence perhaps premiums will come down.

''Overall I feel very positive about the rebuild.''

A lot of workers from overseas were coming into the city and visiting the shop.

''I'm all for more immigrants,'' Aspinwall said.

The Press