23 Sep 2021

Covid-19: Latest lockdown crippled business, dairy owner claims

8:19 am on 23 September 2021

A dairy that opened in Auckland during World War I and survived through the Spanish Flu pandemic is within an inch of its life after the latest lockdown.

Owner of D. Jairam and Sons on Ponsonby Road, Suresh Jeram

Owner of D. Jairam and Sons on Ponsonby Road, Suresh Jeram. Photo: RNZ / Jordan Bond

The owner of D. Jairam and Sons on Ponsonby Road, Suresh Jeram, is certain: Another alert level 4 lockdown and the shop would close for good.

"It's been very difficult for us, but somehow we're managing. But next time we have this sort of thing, we're not going to [survive]. We'll probably close. We've been here now 107 years," Jeram said, whose great-grandfather opened the store in 1915.

The shop has been unable to pay its suppliers in full recently, and Jeram struck a deal to stretch out the company's repayments.

The dairy was open during alert level 4 but had very few customers and little income, Jeram said.

Fixed costs drained its cash reserves.

"The insurance people are unrelenting, you've got your rates, last month I finished paying my GST, two lots of ACC levies, a provisional tax, and it's emptied my bank balance.

"If they said 'you can pay your taxes and insurance and rates [with] a couple of months' relief with no penalties', we'll pay them and we can survive. But that's not happening.

"Rates for instance, in lockdown you don't have the services, why should we pay the full rates? Auckland Council's making a profit from us. They should be aware of that and reduce the rates for us."

The shop's now able to sell fresh flowers - a big part of the business - buckets of which adorn the front of the shop. Jeram hopes that foot traffic will lift with more people back at work and takeout available.

"That's what I'm betting on, that things will improve.

"We'll just see how it goes. We don't know how it's going to go yet. [But] another big lockdown like this, and we're finished."