Chocolate factory to shift up north

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A Queenstowner shifting his wholesale business out of town warns only “boring” multinational chains can afford “crazy” CBD rental levels.

Local chocolatier Steve McClean, who set up Chocolate Brown in the Gorge Road industrial area two years ago, looked at relocating to the CBD to attract more retail business, but says rents there are “absolutely prohibitive”.

Rather than paying $30,000 for his current 140sq m floor space, he’d be paying about $100,000 a year, he says.

“It just came down to the outlay per month, just crazy really. You’re going to end up with a whole lot of boring multinational shops, unfortunately.”

He’s moving to Warkworth, north of Auckland, next week, and taking four staff as well as his family with him.
“I can get a 300sq m building for $27,000 a year in Warkworth, and the same thing would cost me probably six or seven or eight times that [in Queenstown’s CBD].”

However high rents are just one reason McClean’s shifting – he’salready from up that way, his kids will probably go to Auckland University, and he misses the beach.

In his new premises, which include a cafe, he predicts his turnover – currently almost $750,000 a year – will triple.