Homewares retailer spreading its wings

TAMLYN STEWART
Last updated 12:49 20/06/2013
bolt of cloth
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON
GROWING FAST: Suzannah Tonascia, of Bolt of Cloth.

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Christchurch fabric and homewares retailer Bolt of Cloth has rebounded from the earthquakes and is now expanding, launching a new flagship store in Auckland and in Christchurch moving to a bigger site at The Tannery in Woolston.

Owner Suzannah Tonascia said after two and a half years of ''hard slog'' the business was at the point where it needed a flagship store.

Bolt of Cloth opened in Madras St in 2009, but lost those premises in the February 2011 quake. The business relocated to a warehouse on Blenheim Rd and towards the end of 2011 opened a 50sq m store at The Colombo in Sydenham.

The Christchurch store was a very small space and while it was integrated with Bolt of Cloth's website, making it easier for customers to find one of 800 fabrics on display in the physical store, it was time for the business to have a larger, flagship store.

The business had been designed from the outset to offer online shopping, and as a result had a number of its clients who lived in various parts of the country.

People were not visiting Christchurch as they had before the earthquakes, Tonascia said. She had noticed fewer of their own visitors and fewer tourists.

''We needed to get into a significant city like Auckland.''

Many people elsewhere in the country visited Auckland regularly but did not visit Christchurch regularly, she said.

''There is a big chunk of the population up there.''

The Newmarket store, which opened a week ago, was attracting new customers but also existing customers who had previously shopped via Bolt of Cloth's website.

The new 160sq m Newmarket store also incorporated a Marimekko store, a Finnish textiles, homeware and clothing brand, and was the first Marimekko ''store within a store'' in Australasia.

Its Auckland store was now its flagship store, although head office would stay in Christchurch, Tonascia said.

The Bolt of Cloth store at The Colombo will continue to operate, but its 400sq m space in The Tannery in Woolston will be the new home base for the business and incorporate its internet business, making, warehouse and extra retail space where customers and commercial clients could see all the fabrics on the roll.

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- The Press

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