Commonsense finally did prevail and we couldn’t be more proud.
On Friday afternoon, French family and Cafe Tennyson owners received news they have been waiting a long time for. Immigration NZ granted the family New Zealand Residency.
Julien and Sophie Debord along with their two young children arrived in NZ late in 2018 and were granted an entrepreneur visa which was pending cancellation by Immigration New
Zealand due to the Debord’s not meeting their business plan and targets which were set prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Napier City Business Inc General Manager Pip Thompson says, under the Debords’ ownership, the cafe quickly became a Napier City icon, An institution, bustling daily with local business people, families, and visitors. Their clean, fresh french flair added to the vibrant cafe culture Napier is so well known for now and prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Debord’s were committed to riding the COVID storm for their loyal locals and stayed open facing the obvious, a major decline in revenue and huge staff shortages.
To support the Debords fight for residency Thompson acted quickly by engaging her community in supporting the Debord’s. She reached out to her business association members, local leaders, Mayor Kristen Wise, and Napier City Councillor Sally Crown who all wrote letters to immigration ministers along with National MP for Taupo Louise Upston. The ministers were also presented with the data showing Napier City-wide’s decrease in foot traffic and revenue turnover. Foot traffic (average decrease of 23% in 2020 and a further 12% in 2021 with a total of -33% and the impact of Omicron is a combined total of -52%) Given there is an 85% correlation between foot traffic and café/ hospitality turnover in Napier, the last 2 years have been an exceptionally difficult environment in which to achieve pre covid turnover levels.
Local business owner and regular cafe supporter Kathryn McGarvey said the Debords are kind, friendly, hard-working people and only wanted them to be given a fair go. McGarvey created an online petition which quickly gained more than 7300 signatures. The petition was presented to Tairāwhiti Green List MP Dr. Elizabeth Kere Kere who tabled the document in Parliament the following week.
The last two years have been exceptionally tough and uncertain for business, especially retail and hospitality. Thompson says CBDs have suffered from many business services working from home and the reality and fear of Covid-19 and Omicron. Whilst we recognise that working from home more is here to stay we hope as the peak of the current wave passes more people will strike a good balance between working from home and spending a few days a week back in the office.
With the borders soon to open, domestic and international travel becoming more comfortable, and cruise ships returning, CBDs need retail, businesses, and cafes like the Debord’s. They all create an essential part of the vibrancy of our iconic city.
For further information please contact:
Napier City Business Inc
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