17 Nov 2016

Wellington businesses brace for quake-closure costs

8:58 pm on 17 November 2016

Businesses in the Wellington region are reviewing what impact Monday's earthquakes will have on their bottom line.

Mark Sutherland has a coffee business based in a building next to the condemned building in Molesworth St.

Mark Sutherland has a coffee business based in a building next to the condemned building in Molesworth St. Photo: RNZ / Aaron Smale

Some shops have reopened after being shut following Monday morning's quake, but others have just learned today that they may have to close for weeks.

Initially Featherston Street was the worst-hit place in Wellington's CBD with businesses closed on Monday and Tuesday while glass and debris were cleared from the area.

However cordons have since been put in place on Molesworth Street and Tory Street, after it was found the quake had structurally damaged buildings in those areas, forcing nearby shops to close.

Tony Freeman from Freeman's Bookshop on Molesworth Street was allowed in to remove essential equipment from his business today, and thanked fire officers and rescue staff who helped carry items from the premises.

He said he'd heard conflicting stories about when his shop might be able to reopen, but expected it could be several weeks.

"They were saying they've now decided to remove the building. The fascia will have to come off because it's all glass and that's the dangerous part."

61 Molesworth St

61 Molesworth Street is set to be deconstructed, with safety cordons in place in the meantime. Photo: RNZ / Aaron Smale

Mr Freeman said he had had an offer of alternative premises, but that wouldn't work for his bookshop and Lotto agency.

However he said Lotto and his other suppliers had been brilliant.

"They said we'll look after it - they are really under control and pretty good at handling this.

"I have to say nearly all of the people I've dealt with so far have been pretty sympathetic and allowed things to be cancelled immediately, taking returns on things that can't be sold ... People have been really, really helpful."

Mark Sutherland runs a Barista Boys coffee cart in the cordoned off Molesworth Street area but was able to remove his laptop and other essential today.

He said he liked the Molesworth Street location and wanted to stay there if he could, but admitted he was worried about the financial impact of the quake aftermath.

"For any business not to be able to make money for over a week is quite hard no matter who you are, so it's a matter of relying on saving, family and friends.

"You know, we're kiwis. We pull together. We help each other out. It's what we do."

Retailers' Association spokesperson Greg Harford said the organisation's helpline had a surge in calls this week.

"Principally to do with staffing issues as well as more unusual things for us, such as how to secure a structural engineer and health and safety requirements around keeping businesses operating."

Plan B is a company that, in exchange for a monthly fee, provides businesses alternative office space in an emergency.

Its director, Ian Forrester, said there had been high demand for its Wellington office suites, especially given tougher health and safety regulations.

"There have been a lot of changes in rules and regulations around a company's responsibility for its employees and when they are working for the company from another location, be that home or wherever, they are responsible for their well-being so there is a trend internationally for less work from home rather than more work from home."

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